The word "eat" is a very common word to use for the consumption of food; however, it’s an irregular verb, so some students make mistakes with it:

simplepastpast participle
  • What do you like to eat for breakfast? (infinitive)
  • She eats lunch at noon. (present tense)
  • I usually eat lunch at one. (present tense)
  • John ate too much pizza. (past tense)
  • The cats haven’t eaten in two days. (present prefect tense)
  • Eating too much junk food is not healthy. (gerund)

eating utensils

Many people use silverware when they eat.

There are a few other uses for the verb "eat."

  • The meeting ate up a lot of time. (It took a lot of time.)
  • Something bad happened at work last week, and the experience is really eating at me.  (eat at = to cause anxiety, worry, concern)
  • Do you want to eat in or eat out tonight?  (eat out = go to a restaurant; eat in = eat at home)
  • Ted doesn’t want to eat through all of his savings, so he found another job.  (eat through = use something)
  • If you stay outside for too long, you’re going to get eaten. (get eaten = get bit by mosquitoes)

Sometimes (but not always) a good substitute for the word "eat" is "have."

  • What are you having for dinner?
  • What do you like to have for lunch?
  • We don’t like to have breakfast too late.
  • She’s having macaroni and cheese.

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This page was first published on September 4, 2012. It was updated on August 20, 2015.