Hanged vs Hung

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For a lot of people, it might be tricky to use the verb hang accurately. The word has two meanings, and the problem is that each meaning has its own past tense form. Many English learners get confused, whether hanged or hung is the correct past tense for hang. 

In this post, we will try to take all your confusion about the verb, hang, and its different tenses. We will discuss hanged vs. hung, but before that, let’s learn various meanings of hang.

What Does Hang Mean?

Hang is the present tense of the verb that has different meanings and uses. Some definitions of the word hang include:

  • To fasten something with no support from below – Can you please hang this picture on the wall?
  • To let drop or decline downward – You don’t need to hang your head in shame.
  • To kill someone by dropping them with a rope around their neck– Hang him, not leave him. That’s why the game is called hangman, not hungman.
  • To pay strict attention – hang on every word I say.

Now you know the different meanings of the word hang, let’s find out when to use hung and hanged. 

When to Use Hanged?

The word, hanged is the simple past and past participle tense for hang. However, it is only used when referring to death by hanging. 

Examples

  • After the war, many captured soldiers were hanged.
  • He was hanged in Iraq.
  • On the 1st of October 2018, she was found hanged on the fastening of her window.
  • Police found a hanged woman on an oak tree outside the village.
  • She was hanged for her crime.
  • Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.
  • They hanged him for murder.
  • He hanged himself from the rafters.
  • The four were expected to be hanged at 6 am on Tuesday.
  • She was condemned to death for murder and later hanged.

Note: The word hanged can only be used when referring to the killing of a person by hanging them by the neck. If the death is caused by the hanging of other body parts, not the neck, use hung. See the following example. 

Thieves hung her by her arms and beat her. 

hanged vs hungWhen to Use Hung?

Hung is the simple past tense of the word hang. You can use this form in all the examples mentioned above except for hang, meaning death by hanging 

Examples

  • She hung her head in shame.
  • He hung on every word the teacher said.
  • She hung her wedding picture on the wall.
  • Last year we hung the lights on the Christmas tree.
  • My father hung that painting in my room.

How to Remember When to Use Which

Once you know the meaning of hanged vs. hung precisely, it won’t be difficult for you to remember when to use which. However, if you forget it often, you can try the following mnemonic to recognize the difference.

Clothes are hung, and humans are hanged.

How Did the Difference Arise?

It is also vital to understand the origin of these two words. A majority of us wonder why there is two past tense for the same word. According to The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Third Edition, there are two different words for hang from Old English including hon and hangen. These combined with Old Norse word “hangjen” led to the entanglement of the two words. This is why we have two different past tense for the word hang.


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