There is a lot of confusion surrounding the use of the word “hang” and its tenses. The question here is, are these words interchangeable? And if they are not, what is the difference between hanged vs. hung? Should you use hanged or hung when referring to that picture on the wall? The main point to remember is that hung is used when referring to inanimate objects while hanged when referring to people.
Hang is the present tense form and means to suspend, decline downward or to cling tightly to something. Hanged is the past tense as well as past participle of hang. Hanged in most cases is used to refer to death by hanging. For example, in a sentence, we can say,
The traitor was hanged in the public square.
The word hanged has a very specific use.
Hung is another frequently used word. It is a regular past tense of hang. In fact, it is used more often than hanged. In a sentence, we can say that:
She hung the picture on the wall
Hung is used with all the inanimate objects like shelves, paintings or ornaments. Most people claim that the two words can be used interchangeably especially when referring to putting people to death. However, it is less customary to use the two interchangeably in Standard English. Hung might be the conventional word to use if referring to hanging someone out of malice but without intending to kill or put to death.
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.