He hung loose in spite of intense questioning. But I can state jocularly, "I'll be hanged if I'll do that."

January 21, 2010 17:56
2 minute read.

abe. (photo credit: abe)

Since the 16th century we have reserved the past tense "hanged" for imprecations and dreadful executions, and we employ "hung" for various other meanings. Thus, we hanged Abraham Lincoln's assassins, yet the photo of those executions was hung on the wall.

"Hung" is the past tense of "hang." He hung around the drug store yesterday. He hung loose in spite of intense questioning. The drapes were hung yesterday. But I can state jocularly, "I'll be hanged if I'll do that."

Present tense is exhibited in "I hang the curtains" and "We hang with the party on that vote." Past tense is exhibited in "People were hanged" and "The clock was hung on the wall."

Two pet peeves

Some of my advanced degrees are in speech, public speaking, drama and rhetoric. Pronunciation, especially American pronunciation, is a passion of mine, so mispronunciations feel like a pesky sore tooth whenever I encounter them. Two little darlings, when pronounced incorrectly, are as awful as a fingernail noisily scraping on a blackboard. They are: (1) Realtor. That's right, the guy who sells real estate. He is only two syllables yet lots of Yanks say it with three syllables. Thus "real-a-tor" drives me nuts. I've even heard realtors mispronounce the word and they deserve to lose the sale.

(2) Genealogy. A word used a great deal because most of us care about family trees, ancestors and heritage. Note the word is spelled with "alogy," not "ology." Thus we say it with emphasis on the "al" not the horrible "ol." Pronounce it correctly and you are bound to spell it correctly. It's a fact. Dear old Fowler's Modern English Usage backs me up.


I'll sit here while you set those chairs there. I sit. I sat. I have sat there dozens of times.

Sit means to be seated. Set means to place something or someone. Set the jug down, please.

1 - They (hang/hung) ------ Jesse there today.

2 - Jesse (sat/set) -------- with us at lunch.

3 - (Hang/hung) ---------- those curtains correctly.

4 - (Hang/hung) ----------- out with us on the green.

5 - She (sat/set) ----------- down like a lady.

6 - (Hanged/hung) --------- if I will.

7 - He (sits/sets) ----------- it there.

8 - He (hung/hanged) -------- the picture crookedly.

9 - What syllable determines how you will pronounce "genealogy"?

10 - (Review) The cheese gave off (its/it's) ---------- pungent odor.

11 - They spoke to (I/me) ----------- about budget losses.

12 - The subject of the discussion was, alas, (I/me) --------------.

I owe an apology to alert reader Ellie Morris who rapped my knuckles for not including "it's" contracted from "it has." Thank you, and it's been a pleasure getting rapped by someone who knows what she is talking about.

The writer is an author, teacher and body language expert.

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