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

abe (photo credit: abe)
(photo credit: abe)

Since the 16th century we have reserved the pasttense "hanged" for imprecations and dreadful executions, and we employ"hung" for various other meanings. Thus, we hanged Abraham Lincoln'sassassins, 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 hungyesterday. But I can state jocularly, "I'll be hanged if I'll do that."

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

Two pet peeves

Someof my advanced degrees are in speech, public speaking, drama andrhetoric. Pronunciation, especially American pronunciation, is apassion of mine, so mispronunciations feel like a pesky sore toothwhenever I encounter them. Two little darlings, when pronouncedincorrectly, are as awful as a fingernail noisily scraping on ablackboard. They are: (1) Realtor. That's right, the guy who sells realestate. He is only two syllables yet lots of Yanks say it with threesyllables. Thus "real-a-tor" drives me nuts. I've even heard realtorsmispronounce the word and they deserve to lose the sale.

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


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 myknuckles for not including "it's" contracted from "it has." Thank you,and it's been a pleasure getting rapped by someone who knows what sheis talking about.

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