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Your English: Phrasal verbs: hang (1)

Type: Article

When it comes to phrasal verbs, we hang on Tim Bowen’s every word!

The phrase hang on is commonly used in telephone conversations to mean wait a moment but the phrasal verb hang on can also be used to mean to be patient, as in ‘I think we should hang on and see the end of the game’.

If a sports team hangs on, they achieve success despite some difficulties, as in ‘The visiting team hung on for a narrow victory’.

Hang on can also be used to mean depend on, as in ‘Everything hangs on the result of the election’.

If you hang on someone’s every word, you listen very carefully to what someone is saying, often because you are fascinated by what the speaker is saying or you admire him or her, as in ‘The whole audience was hanging on her every word’.

To hang on by one’s fingernails means to narrowly avoid failure or danger, as in ‘In the last fifteen minutes of the match, United were hanging on by their fingernails’.

Always used in the imperative form, hang on is used for saying that you have just realized something, often when you feel suspicious, as in ‘Hang on a minute. He’s only given me change for £10. I’m sure I gave him a £20 note’. 

If you hang onto something, you keep it rather than losing it, getting rid of it or selling it, as in ‘The government is trying desperately to hang onto power’ or ‘I’m going to hang onto these old photos. They could be valuable one day’.

Hang onto can also be used to mean to hold something tightly, as in ‘Hang onto the rope or you’ll fall!’

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