Why in the given context is it "from a tree" but not "on a tree"?

Please explain with a rule or something. What's the rule here can correspond?

Boo carried the ribbon into the garden and carefully hung it from a tree

hung from a tree

  • 1
    There is no rule that I know of. "Hang something on something" and "hang something from something" mean much the same thing as far as I can tell. – Kate Bunting Jan 22 '18 at 9:17
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    I'd say size and 'swinging potential' matter. We hung the bauble on the tree. They hung the swing from the tree. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 22 '18 at 9:30
  • Both “hung on a tree and from a tree” are commonly used: books.google.com/ngrams/… – user121863 Jan 22 '18 at 9:32
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    @kris The same way you'd hang a hat on a hook. In other words you would place it so that the end of a branch was inside the object and only part of the object was suspended below the branch. If I hung a pair of shoes from a tree by their laces the shoes would be swinging free and only the laces (which aren't part of the shoes) would be touching the tree. – BoldBen Jan 22 '18 at 14:00
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    One would hang a string of lights on a tree (if they went around or through), or from a tree (if they simply hung down (away from ) the tree). – Davo Jan 22 '18 at 14:08

It appears to be an idiomatic usage: hang someone or something from something :

to suspend someone or something from something.

  • The captain wanted to hang him from the highest yardarm as punishment. I hung a colorful decoration from the windowsill.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)

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