Posted by: Jack Henry | June 1, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Fun, Funner, Funnest!

I recently read a history of the word fun. And if the subject of this email makes you cringe, the information I’m about to share might make you rethink that reaction, or at least it will give you some food for thought.

Back in the late 1600s, the word fun started out as a verb meaning “to indulge in banter or play.” For example, “Don’t be angry; I was only funning.” Usage as a verb is rare today.

Fun became a noun in the 1700s. For example, “Let the fun begin,” or “We had fun together,” or “My brother torments me for the fun of it.” These examples show how we typically use the word fun today.

Now, the really interesting part—according to the article I read, fun only started being used regularly as an adjective in the 1950s. For example, “That was a fun party.”

And that brings us to the comparative funner and the superlative funnest. I know, I know—those words are like sand in your shoes or gum in your hair. But think about it. Many one syllable adjectives take the –er and ­–est suffixes: tall, taller tallest; smart, smarter, smartest; loud, louder, loudest.

So, if we agree that fun can be used as an adjective, why can’t we say funner and funnest? Well, it’s because we recognize that the word is used as an adjective, but grammarians consider it to be casual, not standard, usage. In other words, it is not widely accepted; so, don’t start having a funner time yet.

I know you’ve read this in other Editor’s Corner articles—languages are always evolving. Usage determines the rules, so rules change in relation to how people actually speak or write. But don’t worry—we’ll do our best to keep you up to date with the latest news about words, grammar, and language in the funnest emails you’ll get all day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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