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Is “Hanged” or “Hung” the Past Tense of the Verb to Hang?

English irregular verbs are challenging at the best times, with seemingly no logic and very few rules to follow. One prime example of this is the verb “to hang.”

Beth Taylor
Beth Taylor

Hung or Hanged

English irregular verbs are challenging at the best times, with seemingly no logic and very few rules to follow. One prime example of this is the verb “to hang.” This can be a straightforward regular verb, albeit rarely used nowadays, and a more complex yet far more common, irregular verb. Indeed, the past tense forms can be both “hung” and “hanged” depending on the verb's meaning. Thus, you might ask yourself when must we use hung, and when must we use hanged?

Past Tense of Hang

To hang can mean to suspend something, for example, from a hook. It is primarily used for objects but can also be used for people when suspended from something without dying. In this case, “hang” is an irregular verb, meaning it doesn’t follow the usual past tense rules. Instead, its simple past form and past participle are “hung.”

I hung my jacket on the coat rack when I got home from work.
I’ve hung up photos before, I know how to do it.
The girl hung upside down from a large branch.

To hang can also mean tying a rope around someone’s neck and suspending their body to kill them. When capital punishment was commonplace, hanging was a regular occurrence in days gone by. In this context, to hang is, rather confusingly, a regular verb. That means that we simply add “ed” to the end when using it in the past tense and for the past participle too.

He was sentenced to death and the executioner hanged him the following day.
Many people have been hanged for petty crimes over the last few centuries.
My neighbor didn’t want to suffer anymore, so, unfortunately, he hanged himself.

Past Tense of Hang Out

Phrasal verbs are a little more complicated to grasp than ordinary verbs. However, conjugation isn’t so complex. To use a phrasal verb in the past tense, we put the verb in the past and then add the preposition at the end.

My sisters and I hung out at the amusement park all afternoon.
It feels like I haven’t hung out with my friends for ages.

Other Phrasal Verbs

As previously mentioned, “hanged” is very specific and can only be used in the context of execution; therefore, all phrasal verbs containing the verb “hang” use the past form “hung.”

The rollercoaster was terrifying, so we hung on tight
Maybe we should’ve hung around a little longer in case she was just running late.
If you’d hung on to your hat, the wind wouldn’t have blown it away.
As soon as she realized who was calling, she hung up the phone.
The puppies hung back because they were wary of humans.

Video Examples:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Prestige (2006)
Magnolia (1999)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
EnglishWhich is correct

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.


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