Is there any difference in meaning between hang on and hang in in the sense of continuing despite difficulties? For example:

The patient is in a coma. He's hanging in there.

The patient is in a coma. He's hanging on.


Hang in there is a a phrase, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say hang in on its own (unless they were literally talking about something hanging in a closet or wherever). If you said hang in people would probably just assume you meant hang on!

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  • So what's the difference between "hang in there" and "hang on"? – Dmytro O'Hope Sep 15 at 17:52
  • Hang in there is a positive comment you'd say to someone who's having a tough time for whatever reason. It basically means don't lose hope, keep going, it will get better! (You've seen the "hang in there baby" posters right?) Hang on doesn't sound as positive and light, it's more serious, like if the person gives up something bad will happen. Your examples mean the same thing, but the first one has a slightly lighter, more optimistic tone that's sometimes appropriate. But you wouldn't really saying "hanging in there for dear life". (Hold on can also mean wait) – cactustictacs Sep 15 at 18:36

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