#WhyWriteWrong? – #10

Happy Fall, Y’all!
And a Happy Thanksgiving to our friends here in the United States.

It’s Marcia back again with another Why Write Wrong post. Quick & easy today: I have a pair of homophones I see being misused more often than you might think, and which, btw, can cause some totally unexpected—and undesirable–images to pop into the minds of your readers. And I also want to clarify the definition of a verb that is even more frequently misused. So, let’s get down to it!


First, the verb. Based on my own observation, this seems to be one many writers get wrong, but here’s the scoop. The rule for the past tense of the verb hang is really simple, with only ONE exception: Unless you are describing a person being suspended by a rope around the neck until dead, the only acceptable past tense of hang is hung. (And the operative word here is “person.” While people are hanged, inanimate objects are hung.)


Example for 99% of the time: Christmas doesn’t really arrive at our house until we’ve hung the lights on both of our big trees, and all three of our small ones. (Don’t ask. I’m somewhat of a fanatic about Christmas. 😀 )



Example 2, and again, this is the ONLY exception: Despite stories to the contrary, accused Salem witches were never burned at the stake, but were hanged instead.




Example 3, reinforcing the 99% rule: Despised for his cruel reign of terror, the king was hung in effigy in full view of the palace. (Again: Inanimate objects follow the normal rule, even if hung from a gallows.)




See? Easy. If you’re writing about the death of a person via a noose around the neck, used hanged. Otherwise, always, always use hung.


And now for the homophones. Take my word for it, you should be very, very careful with these, as one letter makes all the difference between them.

An unfortunate or unhappy person, OR a despicable, contemptible person.


  • Example 1: Can the poor wretch tell us who beat him up?
  • Example 2: Those miserable, ungrateful wretches deserve everything they get!



Definition:  (Noun)
The sound or movement of vomiting or gagging.
Definition: (Verb) To make the sound and movement of vomiting. To gag.


  • Example: The vile odor coming from the tidepool was enough to cause even the strongest sailors to retch and vomit in the sand.

(See? I told you it was an image you might not want to put in your reader’s heads. Unless, of course, nauseated people are germane to your story.)


So, what do you think? Ever used hanged or hung incorrectly yourself, or seen it used wrong elsewhere? And  how about wretch vs retch? Are you pretty certain you’ll never, ever get those two mixed up? I sure hope so.  😀 Your turn now. Let us hear your what you think in the comments section, because, as always, inquiring minds wanna know! 🙂 

And that about wraps it up for this week, folks. I’ll be back next month with something completely different, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, please remember to stop by on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see what everyone else is sharing. As always, there will be plenty of good stuff here!

Meanwhile, I let’s all go forth to write with happy hearts and nary a wretch or retch in sight, because–you guessed it–those are the hearts that produce the best results!

(All images above were created by me or obtained from  Pixabay.) 

46 thoughts on “#WhyWriteWrong? – #10

  1. Pingback: #WhyWriteWrong? – #ReblogAlert – #StoryEmpire – #Misused Words #Confusing Homophones | The Write Stuff

    • Thanks, Trish. I’m glad it was helpful and that even in my frequently addled state of late, I was able to put it in a way that was clear. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahaha, this was great Ms. M. I’ve never really thought about the different hangs / hungs, and how hanged is only when it’s a person being killed. I’ve used the correct one, but never really thought about WHY. You know, it’s pretty worrying really that we writers know which hang/hung to use. Goes to show how often we hang people in our writing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think most of us know some of these things just from reading, but then again, I only post about errors I see in actual print books (and not just indie books, or little known authors, either). So I figure they bear repeating, or pointing out an easy way to remember the difference. Both of my examples today are on the list I keep when I spot this stuff. And they were underlined, which means I’ve seen them several times. Happy to know that they haven’t been problems for you, though. And glad you got a laugh out of the post, either way. I aim to bring smiles into the world every chance I get, especially today. And if I can do it with a lesson, then I’m doubly happy. Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! Always nice to see you pop in! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Another wonderful post, Marcia. I’m late to read this, but it certainly hits home for me. Often I struggle with words like hang, hung, hanged. Our colloquial usage may not be correct, but the proper word can sound misplaced. I always have to look it up. Thank you for paving a path through these befuddling choices.🤔

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bravo to you for knowing when you need to double check, Gwen. And I’m happy to know that these posts are helpful. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let me know your thoughts. 🙂 Have a peaceful, restful day tomorrow, filled with gratitude and love! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Somehow I’m not surprised that in “your” mind, you know all about executions and the correct usage of hanged. 😀 I look to you as an expert on all things criminal, after all. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment, Sue. Hope you have a peaceful Thanksgiving, with nary a hanging involved. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Entertaining post. I didn’t know about hanged and hung. Thanks for that information. I love homophones and have studied them a lot. I have seen wretch/retch misused in books more than once this year. Just read a book with two editors that had here and hear mixed up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here and hear? Really?? I’m guessing a typo rather than being due to not knowing the difference. Still. Two editors, huh? Gleep. And so glad you are now armed with knowledge of the only time you may use hanged correctly. 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! 🙂


    • Lots of us have, John, (And I wouldn’t have this series to write if we didn’t make similar mistakes now and then.) I’m glad this helped you, so that you can proceed with confidence as you execute folks via the gallows willy-nilly. 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t think I ever knew about hang/hung. You had a very clear explanation:) I did know the difference between wretch/retch. Thanks, Marcia and Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad it helped you, Denise. And I’m glad you’re good on wretch/retch. I’ve had many a time when reading it incorrectly made ME feel like retching. 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a moment to leave a comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a good one, Marcia. I’d be willing to bet I’ve used the past tense of ‘hang’ wrong a time or two. You made it simple and Yvette’s example brought it home. 🙂
    Wretch and retch are pretty clear. I don’t think I’ve ever misused them. Great post! Happy Thanksgiving Marcia and Story Empire!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d be surprised how often I’ve seen retch used when they meant wretch. It’s that silent “w,” I guess, like in wreak, which is also misused often. Glad it’s never been a problem for you. And you aren’t alone if you’ve used hung for hanged. It IS the one that’s almost always correct, so easy to forget that there’s one exception. Thanks so much for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect many of us have “hung” people, at least in speaking, if not in writing. But knowing that it’s the ONLY exception to the rule should make it easier to get it right going forward, anyway. I hope! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Judi, and taking a moment to comment. I’m glad you’re enjoying this series. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hanged always sounds weird for me, but that’s because I never write about someone being hanged. I also always hear in my head, “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,” and that reminds me of the past tense of hang. Silly but effective. Lol! Another great segment, Marcia. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I always hear that line, too, Yvette, especially this time of year as I decorate our house, in case the kids can get here over Christmas break. 😀 Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks so much for taking a moment to let me know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That was a fun post, Marcia. I would bet I’ve probably used hung incorrectly at some point or another. Your rule for remembering is a good one. For retch vs. wretch, I always pause for a moment before typing. sometimes when the muse is engaged and the fingers are flying, if I don’t do that I’m liable to get the wrong one, LOL.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mae! Glad you liked it. I’m pretty sure I’ve never mixed up wretch/retch, but not at all sure about hung/hanged. But once I looked it up, it cemented itself in my head. Hopefully, it will do the same for those who stop by today, or even if they check this out after all the Thanksgiving prep is done. 🙂 Speaking of which, I hope yours is RESTFUL and PEACEFUL. (I suspect you need that right about now, as NaNo winds down.) Thanks for stopping by and have a great day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So many inappropriate jokes I could make, but I’ll resist. With that in mind, I believe I would still use hanged in effigy just so someone didn’t get the wrong idea about the king. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. You should make a drive and look for those Osceola turkeys. We have wild turkeys right in town and see them almost daily.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I thought of a whole bunch of inappropriate jokes, too, Craig, but I restrained myself. (Admirably, I think, given the temptation.) 😀 But you can’t used “hanged” with an inanimate object, which an effigy is. If you do, it will sound like they really dragged their miserable wretch of a king right out of the castle and strung him up. 😀

      And I’m hoping we get a chance to take a walk in a wooded area near us as the weather cools. Or get out on the river. We always see turkeys along the shore, but I’ll be darned if I know which ones they are. Only that you can tell they are wild as opposed to domestic via the wide rust colored band on the tips of their tail feathers. (Domestic birds have a white one, or are solid white, instead.) Now I have to go remind myself where and how to see Osceolas. That would be fun, especially over Thanksgiving, when I can reassure them they won’t show up on our table.) 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve seen both, more often than I’d like. Retch, especially. URK. And I’ve definitely seen hung used for executions, too. But, hey–if writers (including myself) didn’t make mistakes here and there, I’d have nothing to talk about in my Why Write Wrong post. 😀 😀 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. ha ha ha! Love it, Marcia. Reblogged on https://harmonykent.co.uk/whywritewrong-10-story-empire/

    I’ve always assumed (I know, I know, never assume!) that hanged was an Americanism or simply ye olde English lols. Thanks for the education … now all I have to do is remember that I can’t use hung all the time. If I kill off enough people in a short time, that might help it sink in, lols🤣

    Thanks for an informative and hilarious share! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Harmony! It was a fun one to put together, and I’m glad you found it enlightening. 😀 Mostly, you’ll be just fine using hung, though. Unless you’re dealing with a murderous gang of cutthroats who all need to be dispatched on the gallows. 😀 (Miserable wretches that they are.) 😀

      I expect it might be slow here today, what with everyone on this side of the pond trying to figure out how to enjoy Thanksgiving safely, so thank so much for stopping by and taking a moment to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: #WhyWriteWrong? – #10 | Story Empire | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

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