Word Choice – Hanged Versus Hung

BizWritingTip reader: I was under the impression that the past tense of “to hang” was “hung,” but I often hear people saying “hanged.” It doesn’t sound right to me. Please help.

BizWritingTip response: Things are hung but people are hanged.

In other words, when you are using the word in the sense of “to suspend,” then hung is the correct past tense. This is the most probable form you will use in business writing.

Examples

All attendees hung their coats in the closet.?The chairman’s picture was hung in the boardroom.

When you are discussing how someone was put to death, hanged is the correct past tense.

Example

The criminal was hanged in 2010.

Note: Some reference books say “hung,” when referring to past executions, is not wrong. It is just less customary. Random House Unabridged Dictionary says “hung” is becoming more common; however, a majority of books agree the usual English word is “hanged” when talking about dangling people from a rope.

There, you now know more than some reporters!

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