We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
On Forensic Fridays, we dissect the English language to see what it’s made of and how to use it properly.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the verb to hang. This will be a short post, because there’s not much to say about it, but what little there is can be very important.
The problem with this little verb is that it has two different conjugations. The more familiar conjugation would be hang, hung, hung for the present, past and past participle, respectively. However, it can also be hang, hanged and hanged, for the respective tenses.
What gives here? Are these two conjugations interchangeable? Do both carry the same meaning.
In a way, the do both carry the same meaning. Both mean to suspend, but they are not interchangeable.
The word hanged for the past and past participle is specifically used to describe using a rope to execute someone or to commit suicide. The cattle rustler was hanged for his crimes. It would be improper to say he was hung for his crimes. To the best of my knowledge, that is the only proper usage of hanged.
For all other purposes, we use hung for the past and past participle of this verb. The picture hung on the living room wall—we hung the new lamp in the corner—he hung up the phone.
Just remember to use hanged when referring to something a hangman did, and otherwise use hung.
What grammatical misuse bothers you? What particular area of grammar would you like help with? I’d love to hear and help.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at email@example.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx