What is the past tense of swing?

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RCT Bob
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What is the past tense of swing?

Postby RCT Bob » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:17 pm UTC

A simple google search reveals that some people think it is swang, while others say it is swung.

There are results that are divided in their answers link another link, there are results that say it's definitely swung yet another link more links final link for this one, and there are results saying it's swang also a link for this one. So where better to find an answer (or spark a discussion) for someone not native in English than the xkcd language forums, what do you think?

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Mega85 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:24 pm UTC

traditionally it is "swang", whereas "swung" is the past participle. however there are people who use "swung" for both past tense and past participle.

a similar think goes on with "stink". traditionally there is "stank" for the past tense and "stunk" for the past participle. however many people use "stunk" for both past tense and past participle.

and likewise with "shrink". there's a movie called "honey i shrunk the kids". traditionally, that should be "honey i shrank the kids", however many people use "shrunk" for both past tense and past participle.

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Weeks » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:14 pm UTC

I have heard more "swung" than "swang", or at least it sounded better.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Mega85 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:34 pm UTC

turns out what i said above is wrong. "swung" is the only past tense for "swing" given by dictionaries. i just looked the word up in dictionary.com and merriam-webster online.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/swing?s=t

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swing
Last edited by Mega85 on Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:39 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby flicky1991 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:36 pm UTC

"Swang" and "swung" both sound right.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:07 pm UTC

RCT Bob wrote:A simple google search reveals that some people think it is swang, while others say it is swung.

There are results that are divided in their answers link another link, there are results that say it's definitely swung yet another link more links final link for this one, and there are results saying it's swang also a link for this one. So where better to find an answer (or spark a discussion) for someone not native in English than the xkcd language forums, what do you think?

According to Google, "swung" is about 1000 times more common than "swang" in books.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... 29%3B%2Cc0
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:45 am UTC

I have definitely heard "swang" and probably would not bat an eye if someone said "Yesterday, Tarzan swang from vine to vine," but personally I would use "swung" and I'm pretty sure that's standard usage. But it fits the -i-, -a-, -u- pattern so nicely that it is easy to see why people would use "swang."

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:38 am UTC

"It was swung" vs. "It swang" (...through the air/...in the wind/...away from danger). Compare and contrast with "It was hung" vs. "He was hanged", as a different but possibly related distinction. The former gives the responsibility of the state to another agency ("It was swung by the Champion"), the latter deals only with the direct subject's involvement in their fate ("It swang by its own momentum"). Ascribing the fate of a hanged man solely to himself, of course. Though exceptions are obvious.

Although the hung/hanged one is considered a particularly famous irregular distinction, beyond mere grammar, so I'm not sure it properly justifies my instinctual thoughts on the difference. They obviously do not adhere to the same kind of simple-past/past-participle distinction that the likes of "wrote/written" do.

("Bung"/"Bang" aren't (SFAIK) different forms of each other, though "Brung"/"Brang" (choose from: It was X forth.../It X forth...) does seem to justify the Swung/Swang agency idea, and then we must consider Sprung/Sprang.)


((Frequency of usage perhaps isn't a good guide. They are both clearly correct, in different contexts, some of which may be rendered more popular to write about, thus skewing the sampling. But also because, in overlapping contexts, (initially?) erroneous use may only self-justify the perpetuation of the error "because many people are making it", and then we get into prescriptivism/descriptivism arguments.))

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:13 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:"It was swung" vs. "It swang" (...through the air/...in the wind/...away from danger). Compare and contrast with "It was hung" vs. "He was hanged", as a different but possibly related distinction. The former gives the responsibility of the state to another agency ("It was swung by the Champion"), the latter deals only with the direct subject's involvement in their fate ("It swang by its own momentum"). Ascribing the fate of a hanged man solely to himself, of course. Though exceptions are obvious.

"It was swung" is a perfect passive construction, which in English uses the past participle. "Swung" is always the past participle of "swing." "It swang" (or "it swung" in standard use) is the simple past, which in English uses a different form for many irregular verbs. For instance, compare "he took the job" with "the job was taken."

The word "hang" is complicated in that the form "hanged" traditionally was sometimes used as the simple past of "hang," but now is almost never used except specifically for executions. The word "hung," which was always used for the past participle, is now typically also used for the simple past.

("Bung"/"Bang" aren't (SFAIK) different forms of each other, though "Brung"/"Brang" (choose from: It was X forth.../It X forth...) does seem to justify the Swung/Swang agency idea, and then we must consider Sprung/Sprang.)

I don't know what verb would have the form "bung," unless you mean that it should be the past participle for "bang," but it isn't. That's "banged," because "bang" is a regular verb. "Brung" as both the simple past and the past participle of "bring," but this is definitely nonstandard (both are normally "brought").

((Frequency of usage perhaps isn't a good guide. They are both clearly correct, in different contexts, some of which may be rendered more popular to write about, thus skewing the sampling. But also because, in overlapping contexts, (initially?) erroneous use may only self-justify the perpetuation of the error "because many people are making it", and then we get into prescriptivism/descriptivism arguments.))

The form "swung" is used one thousand times more often than "swang." This is pretty good evidence that it is the standard form.

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:06 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:"It was swung" is a perfect passive construction, which in English uses the past participle. "Swung" is always the past participle of "swing." "It swang" (or "it swung" in standard use) is the simple past, which in English uses a different form for many irregular verbs. For instance, compare "he took the job" with "the job was taken."
Irregular verbs are generally signs of an extensive history. Common words, or historically common ones, tend to predate the current regular-rules, and perhaps demonstrate their pedigree (or mongrel) origins in linguistic history. The rest I covered. ;)

The word "hang" is complicated...
Yup.

I don't know what verb would have the form "bung,"
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bung#Verb - for me, usage 2 is the main use (I would describe it as "to casually pass, probably by throwing or free sliding", rather than any more controlled form of handing over), usage 1 overlaps as a variant of that ("bung it in there" is to suggest a care-free putting into a recepticle, such as a loose goods bin, also more conceptual such as "bung that data it in the obvious entry-field) but also as suggested (tightly plugging a gap). Usage 4 also mostly overlaps ("bung him a tenner, will yer?"), because I find it hard to phrase an equivalent such as "have you (bribed/bunged) the mayor", outside of direct usage the noun form, but it probably happens. Usage 3 is entirely novel to me. Looks like it should have come initially from having 'banged' (sic) the target, the swelling an after-effect. (Also the 'throwing over' could well derive from the explosive force used to project it, or the clatter of an item's arrival.

But it sounds like a word that rarely crosses the Atlantic.

"Brung"… is definitely nonstandard (both are normally "brought")
Non-standard, but a cromulent form.

The form "swung" is used one thousand times more often than "swang." This is pretty good evidence that it is the standard form.
Not really. To invent a more extreme example, imagine a specific word for "to re-enter the atmosphere", with distinct and official first-person and third-person forms. People are allowed to use either, and a non-re-enterer can even describe themselves fictionally re-entering, but an overwhelming amount of usages are likely of the impersonal variation, as reportage of another (in fact or fiction), rather than the personal one (by the few fictional 1st-person accounts and the fewer returning astronauts stating facts).

If, in a less extreme example, swinging as a description tends to be ascribed mostly to actively swung items (nerf swords?) desrving of the participle rather than simple term for descriptive passivity (hanging baskets), a bias might exist. We could also talk about "swinged" ("ng" pronunciation, not the "nj" one from "swinge", the latter fairly commonly used in the form "swinging cuts") as an obvious regularish formation and yet even more non-standard form than "swang" might be considered to be by some... ;)

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:26 am UTC

I've literally never heard "swang", and it's certainly nonstandard in my locale. It's definitely not for lack of opportunity, because although things are probably more often swung than swing of their own volition, constructions like "swung wildly out of control" (of a vehicle, active voice) are common. It's certainly possible that the set was at one time the same as drink-drank-drunk, sing-sang-sung and that the simple past was absorbed into the participle, and further that the same pattern is sometimes applied to the verb in a logical but nonstandard way now. I mean, it seems plausible enough that "swang" could develop as an accepted usage, particularly a spoken one, in a pocket here or there and leave no trace in the corpus.

But yes, it is an ordinary verb used in all its principle parts, not part of some fixed phrase (shrift and smithereens and things) or any really special semantic role that forces it into a particular form, so a 1:1000 ratio is extremely significant.

If it's part of your idiolect, own it; take pride in your uniqueness.

Edit: I'd honestly also never encountered (that I recall) the apparently archaic verb "swinge", but I'm glad to see that the unambiguous "swingeing" is also accepted, because that would be terribly annoying otherwise.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:49 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
The form "swung" is used one thousand times more often than "swang." This is pretty good evidence that it is the standard form.
Not really. To invent a more extreme example, imagine a specific word for "to re-enter the atmosphere", with distinct and official first-person and third-person forms.
I can imagine such a word, but it's kind of pointless to do so given that English doesn't work that way. (As in, there aren't verbs other than "be" and "has" that have such distinct first and third-person forms.)

Also, I think you seriously underestimate the frequency with which the first-person form would show up in science fiction, for example, while you seriously overestimate how much 0.1% is.

(For reference, the ratio of "he swung" to "he swang" in the Google Books corpus is roughly the same as the ratio of "definitely" to "definately".)

Edit: Also, your pretend example with vastly different first- and third-person forms wouldn't apply to a search that includes a subject pronoun, which I did to eliminate passive and perfect constructions that would use the past participle.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby VgKing » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:58 am UTC

It's swang of course and the past participle is swung.

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:41 pm UTC

VgKing wrote:It's swang of course

It's really not.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:50 am UTC

I thank we'd been through this, VgKing.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:48 am UTC

We swang around some personal opinions and had a bit of a traditional prescriptivist/descriptivist battle with frequencies of use, sure, but it was hardly concluded either way, and the more the merrier, right..?

:P

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Angua » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:47 am UTC

I use swang and swung. Mozilla says that swang isn't a word though.

OED says rarely used.

I'm going to keep using swang though.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Weeks » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:15 pm UTC

Angua wrote:I'm going to keep using swang though.
That can only mean one thang
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:36 pm UTC

Angua wrote:I use swang and swung. Mozilla says that swang isn't a word though.

OED says rarely used.

I'm going to keep using swang though.


I think I'd pretty much only say swung but swang doesn't sound completely wrong to me (although it does seem less wrong when used transitively "he swang the axe" vs "the pendulum swang").

Anyway, y'all're wrong, the real answer's clearly swonged.
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby VgKing » Mon Jan 30, 2017 2:31 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
VgKing wrote:It's swang of course

It's really not.


I meant the other way round. Thank you for correcting me. Swung is the simple past tense of swing.

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby RCT Bob » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:15 pm UTC

Thanks a lot for the help, I'll go with swung :)

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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:17 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:"It was swung" vs. "It swang" (...through the air/...in the wind/...away from danger). Compare and contrast with "It was hung" vs. "He was hanged", as a different but possibly related distinction. The former gives the responsibility of the state to another agency ("It was swung by the Champion"), the latter deals only with the direct subject's involvement in their fate ("It swang by its own momentum"). Ascribing the fate of a hanged man solely to himself, of course. Though exceptions are obvious.
I'm pretty sure the distinction hang/hung distinction is in what action is occurring, not in agency or transitiveness. For examples:

The outlaw hanged.
The park attendant hung the child from the ride.
gmalivuk wrote:(For reference, the ratio of "he swung" to "he swang" in the Google Books corpus is roughly the same as the ratio of "definitely" to "definately".)
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Re: What is the past tense of swing?

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:45 pm UTC

Yeah, the conventional distinction with hanged/hung is that the execution method uses "hanged" but everything else uses "hung".

"the executioner hanged the criminal"
"the pirate hanged"
"the sign hung in the breeze"
"the farmer hung the pheasants in the shed"
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