MiR 041 Shorts – Hanged or Hung


Welcome to the Mark in Russia podcast network, episode #41, and I’m your host, Mark. This episode is part of my series of “Shorts” and by this I mean approximately 5 minute long podcasts which are aimed at explaining a Quick Grammar Tip.
You should go to the website, http://www.markinrussia.com and look at the show notes and vocabulary. You’ll get more out of the lesson if you are able to follow it in writing.

Todays Quick Grammar Tip concerns the use of “Hanged” and “Hung” and in which circumstances you should use these in.

When hang means, as it generally does, “to suspend something without supporting it from the bottom,” then the correct past-tense and past participial form of the verb is “Hung”: “Yesterday, I hung a portrait on the wall”; “I have hung many pictures on the wall” When hang means “to put to death by hanging,”  the correct past-tense and past participial form is “Hanged”: “Sadaam Hussien was hanged yesterday”; “Many criminals had been hanged in Britain before capital punishment was banned”
The media, when reporting the Sadaam Hussein story, almost all used the word “hung” rather than the correct “hanged”. This is because the media frequently is either stupid, or is trying to look like “just one of the guys” by making common mistakes. The advice here is to never take your grammar lessons from the media.

Now, some might think that since death by hanging is kind of rare, “why don’t we just use “hung” in every situation?”. The main answer to this, apart from it’s wrong and it’s also a bit lazy, is that when we use the past tense “hung” in relation to a male, the meaning is now very much sexual in nature. To say that, “Sadaam Hussein was hung” would be a statement only one of his wives could say with any authority.
So, let’s stay with hanged when it comes to people with a rope around their neck. OK?

Like many aspects of picky grammar, there are debates on whether “hanged “ applies to any person who dies due to a rope around their neck, or whether it only applies to those who die this way due to the punishment of the law.

For example, or e.g.
Sadaam was hanged yesterday
My neighbor hung himself yesterday (meaning suicide)

I find that the majority opinion in these cases is that the word “hanged” should be used in any situation involving humans.
So, “They hung the large swordfish on display when they returned to the docks.” Is correct, whereas “Hanged” would not be correct because it is not a human.
Well, this was another picky point in word usage, but also one which could embarrass you if you used the wrong word, so in this respect it is important.

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