Mighty Red Pen

May 16, 2011

What could be funner than this?

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 6:12 pm

Can faster be funnerYahoo! thinks so.

I know, I don’t love it either. It kind of makes the peevologist in me cringe. I want it to say Faster is more fun. But I mean, really, blech. What kind of campaign slogan is that? Definitely not funner.

Merriam-Webster says funner can be used “sometimes.” World Wide Words says it’s not common, but becoming more so:

Fun has conventionally been said to be a noun, so that you can’t make these comparative or superlative forms from it. . . . What we’re seeing here is language evolution in action. So the straightforward answer to your question is: yes, you can use these forms, and people are doing so increasingly often. But if your question was really asking whether it is acceptable to use them in all circumstances, then I have to say firmly that, no, it isn’t, not yet anyway. They are definitely informal and they should still be avoided when speaking or writing standard or formal English.

Grammar Girl offers a similar analysis, calling the use of funner an example of “language in flux” and cites the 2008 “funnest iPod ever” campaign (another example of where strictly toeing the line—the most fun iPod ever—probably just wouldn’t have worked as a campaign).

In the end, I’ve come to believe that there is a “fun” continuum. On one end you’ve got “fun,” the noun, and everyone is happy to cluster around and be associated with it. That’s the standard usage. Then, if you move on to “fun,” the adjective, you’ve got a smaller but still significant group of people who will give their approval. That makes “fun” as an adjective informal usage. And then as you move on down the continuum you’ve got a much smaller group of people who are willing to grab “funner” and “funnest” by the shoulders and give them a big welcoming hug.

Wordies, what do you think? Are you on board with fun, funner, funnest?

3 Comments »

  1. I have used “fun” as an adjective, but I can’t imagine the circumstances under which I’d use “funner”. (I suppose if I were a copywriter I might grudgingly accept its use, as in the Yahoo ad.) That leaves me somewhere in the middle of Grammar Girl’s continuum.

    Comment by Suzanne — May 17, 2011 @ 9:23 am | Reply

  2. My mom always corrected me as a child when I tried to use “funner.” It made sense to my unformed brain, but now sounds weird. However, I accept that language is always changing, and dinosaurs have to adapt.

    Comment by Val Span — May 17, 2011 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  3. Well… this advert has now actually been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency for implying that speeding in a car is fun.

    Comment by Dev Nasha — May 25, 2011 @ 3:20 am | Reply


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