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Hanged vs. Hung

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The traitor was hanged for treason.

He hung on to the rope.

Since 1st grade we have been told the past tense of hang is hanged but then what is wrong with one of the two sentences above?

This article will tell you all there is to know about the difference between hanged and hung and how you can choose which to write according to your sentence.

Hanged as verb:

Hanged is the past tense of the verb hang which means to suspend or be suspended from above with the lower part dangling free.

That's where people are supposed to hang their washing.

Another meaning of hanged is kill (someone) by tying a rope attached from above around their neck and removing the support from beneath them (often used as a form of capital punishment).

He was hanged for murder.

Hang also means to remain static in the air.

A black pall of smoke hung over Valletta.

In computers language, hang is known as something that comes or causes to come unexpectedly to a state in which no further operations can be carried out.

The machine has hung.

Hung as adjective:

Hung is used in English language as past participle of hang but what a very few of us know is that it is also an adjective in itself which means (of an elected body) having no political party with an overall majority.

A hung parliament.

Someone who is emotionally confused or disturbed is also known as hung.

People are hung up in all sorts of ways.

Examples:

A column of smoke visible from six miles away hung over the scene throughout  the afternoon. [NBC Washington]

Two teenage boys that hung on to tree branches for two hours in the middle of Beaver Creek have been rescued. [My Fox Phoenix]

I hung the decorations in our platoon office for everyone to enjoy. [Galesburg Register-Mail]

The hangman, who has hanged nine people in his 21 years in prison, has requested anonymity. [BBC News]

A man due to be sentenced tomorrow for murdering his brother has been found hanged in his cell. [Mirror]

Hanged or hung:

Hung is the past tense and past participle of hang in most of that verb’s senses. For instance, yesterday you might have hung a picture on the wall, hung a right turn, and hung your head in sorrow. The exception comes where hang means to put to death by hanging. The past tense and past participle of hang in this sense, and only in this sense, is hanged. A good mnemonic to remember the difference is the following sentence, curtains are hung and people are hanged. This echoes that we use hung with inanimate objects like curtains, but hanged to refer to death by hanging.

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