English Grammar and Usage, Reader Polls

Grammer Pole of the Weak: Got Any Fun Weekend Plans?

Everybody’s working for the weekend. But for now, while you’re still stuck at work, you should take a look at our latest Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that even federal judges are capable of creating fugly new words. Chief Judge Kozinski, stop trying to make “dissental” and “concurral” happen. They’re not going to happen!

This week, we’ve got a lighter topic to discuss. Do you have any fun weekend plans? If you do, you might want to reconsider your usage of the word “fun”….

You might not know it, but the word “fun” is supposed to be a noun. In fact, according to Merriam-Webster, “fun” has been used as a noun since 1727. But in modern times, the word “fun” has been adopted for adjectival use.

Confused? Maybe Grammar Girl can help:

When you start using “fun” as an adjective, . . . some people think the fun has stopped. Some dictionaries include “fun,” the adjective, and some don’t.

The younger you are the more likely you are to think there’s nothing wrong with a sentence that uses “fun” as an adjective such as the sentence “Squiggly brought fun games.” In that sentence “fun” is an adjective that modifies the noun “games.” You could say “Squiggly brought fun games,” “Squiggly brought boring games,” or “Squiggly brought yellow games.” “Fun,” “boring,” and “yellow” are all adjectives.

As it turns out, here at Above the Law, we’ve been using “fun” as an adjective for quite some time. But just because we think that “Fashion is Fun” does not mean we’re using the word properly.

So, is the use of “fun” as an adjective considered proper by any legal language gurus out there?

According to Bryan A. Garner, “fun” can be used as an adjective. In Garner’s Modern American Usage (affiliate link), he notes that such use “becomes commonplace even among many well-educated people but is still avoided in careful usage.” And in Garner’s Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style, he goes on to state:

Fun, traditionally a noun, has come into vogue as an adjective–but only as a casualism. . . . R.W. Burchfield notes that “in serious writing, it (so far) lacks a comparative and a superlative.” That may be true of serious writing, but not of spoken American English (especially among those born after 1960 or so). . . . But to traditionalists, these forms remain blemishes in writing and speech alike.

We imagine it was with a grimace that Garner admitted the word “fun” could be used as an adjective. But just remember: if you use the word in such a way, you’ll make grammarians cry. And you might open the floodgates to the accepted usage of “funner” and “funnest.” Nobody wants that.

Readers, what do you think? Debate in the comments, and vote in our poll:

Can the word "fun" be used as an adjective?

  • Yes. Words are fun, and fun people like adjectives. (86%, 485 Votes)
  • No. Don't mess with my nouns like it's all fun and games. (14%, 80 Votes)

Total Voters: 564

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Who Says “Fun” Can’t Be an Adjective? [Grammar Girl]

Earlier: Prior Grammer Poles of the Weak

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