Source: Parents receive body of first Russian to die in Syria, doubt suicide


The body of the first Russian serviceman confirmed dead in four weeks of air strikes in Syria was delivered on Tuesday to his parents, who said they were not convinced by the military's account that their 19-year-old son had hanged himself.

I don't understand it. What really is the past participle of hang? I've always thought that it was hung. Well, after all, we do say:

Don't get hung up on the problem too much. Everything will be fine in the end.


2 Answers 2


From The Grammarist:

Hung is the past tense and past participle of hang in most of that verb’s senses. For instance, yesterday you might have hung a picture on the wall, hung a right turn, and hung your head in sorrow. The exception comes where hang means to put to death by hanging. The past tense and past participle of hang in this sense, and only in this sense, is hanged.

When someone is hung out of malice but with no intent to kill, as described in the example below, hung is the conventional word:

They hung him by chains and tortured him. [Day Press News]
  • 4
    +1. A remark in case OP is confused: a lot of native speakers get this "wrong" and use "hung" even in the context of an execution, so don't be surprised if you've heard it both ways.
    – hunter
    Oct 28, 2015 at 10:56
  • 1
    According to the link, the use of hung in the sense under discussion isn't at all wrong. The thing is that hung is seldom used, whereas the usual and common use in modern English is hanged.
    – Khan
    Oct 28, 2015 at 12:50

According to Merriam-Webster's usage note "Is it 'Hung' or 'Hanged'?" eithr may be used and is correct:

A stripped-down version of why we have these two different words is that the word hang came from two different verbs in Old English (and possibly also one from Old Norse). One of these Old English verbs was what we might think of as a regular verb, and this gave rise to hanged; the other was irregular, and ended up becoming hung.

Hanged and hung were used interchangeably for hundreds of years, although over time the one from the irregular verb (hung) eventually became the more common one. Hanged retained its position when used to refer to death by hanging, possibly due to being favored by judges who were passing a sentence. However, both forms are commonly found, and both are commonly found used in either sense.

Is the distinction important? It's still commonly found in usage guides, which typically say that the past and the past participle of hang should be hanged only when referring to a person being subjected to death. Hung is preferred, at least by people who make a distinction, in almost every circumstance. However, not everyone makes this distinction. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage has a take on this that differs slightly from the one commonly found in usage guides:

The distinction between hanged and hung is not an especially useful one (although a few commentators claim otherwise). It is, however, a simple one and certainly easy to remember. Therein lies its popularity. If you make a point of observing the distinction in your writing, you will not thereby become a better writer, but you will spare yourself the annoyance of being corrected for having done something that is not wrong.

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