Why is “funner” not a word?!

But is it funnest?!A special request from my husband’s coworker! I’m not quite sure WHY he requested it, but here we go. I know you might sometimes hear people say “Oh that was funner” and it’s like the world stops. Somewhere in the world, someone starts scratching their nails on a blackboard. But wait a minute! Why CAN’T you say “funner?” I doubt many people know WHY they can’t say it. All they know is that it’s a no-no. So let’s discuss why “funner” isn’t a word.

What is “fun?”

Well, I think dancing is fun. I think playing games is fun. Ohhhhhhhhh, you want to know about the WORD fun. Ok, let’s do this. Fun has generally been considered a noun in the past–meaning it’s a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun can’t have superlative forms. For example, you wouldn’t say that “The gray cat is catter than the black one.” Cat is a noun. It cannot be more or less than “cat.”

However, it has now become an adjective. Most one-syllable adjectives we can add an -er or -est to, such as “hotter/hottest.” Yet in this case, we still hold on the to notion of its “noun” usage, and say “more fun” or the “most fun.” Even though it’s still in debate if we can say “funner,” I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “funnest” and haven’t cringed. The extreme superlative seems to be more common and accepted than the middle one.

Although the words are in most dictionaries, it is still not considered “proper” to say funner or funnest. Perhaps over time it will become accepted, but until then I suggest saying “more” or “most” “fun.” Good luck!

Posted in Grammar Quick Fix.


  1. I’ve never heard “funner”, but I hear “xyz is the funnies zyx ever” a lot.

    • “Funnier” and “funniest” actually ARE words. They’re modified forms of the adjective “funny” and as such, there are superlative forms of the word. This is similar to the adjective “happy,” where you drop the -y, change it to -i, and add -er or -est to make “happier” or “happiest.” It’s also important to note that “funnier” and “funniest” are very different than what “funner” and “funnest” would be.

      The main issue here is that although fun is now generally considered an adjective, it was once a noun. Some still hang on to that idea and believe that superlatives are wrong to use.

  2. “For example, you wouldn’t say that ‘The gray cat is catter than the black one.’ Cat is a noun. It cannot be more or less than ‘cat.'”

    OK, but you wouldn’t use “more cat” and “most cat” either.

    • You’re absolutely right. I gave that example to illustrate how nouns cannot be used with superlative forms. At this point in the language, fun is somewhat torn between an adjective and noun. This is why we see that superlative forms are allowed to a certain extent, but not in the same sense that most one-syllable adjectives use.

  3. Funner is a word.

    There is absolutely no doubt. It may not be an ACCEPTED ‘proper word, but all the same it is a word. Anything noise that two people can understand is a word.

    Ain’t is a word. Funner is a word. Funnest is a word.

    In the past people probably didn’t think ‘doesn’t’ was a proper word.

    In my opinion, the word is standard when Spell Check accepts it.

    • Really? Now we’re letting computers decide what is “right” and “wrong”? What about when the grammar check cannot comprehend a complex sentence beginning with a noun clause–should I change the sentence, even though it is correct, because the algorithm doesn’t understand?

      You seem to be from the “school” that language is an ever evolving, living, changing thing. I certainly understand that sentiment. After all, we have removed words like “thou” from our everyday usage; things do change. However, I’m not sure if designating “spell-check” is the appropriate method of defining a “proper word.” Do we not believe in things like the OED anymore?

  4. I asked beacuase i watched suite life on deck and sally said now this is funner than your stupid bear shirt
    and then bailey said sally there is no such word as funner

    • It’s interesting that it’s in the Scrabble dictionary, but it’s not in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED studies these words at a far greater depth than Scrabble–which happens to pulls its word-bank from Merriam Webster. MW has a much more descriptivist attitude towards the language than the OED (which tends to be prescriptivist).

      Most of the debates on this site stem from this dichotomy of ideologies: if you believe that language is how it is spoken–that rules aren’t the key to language, but rather usage–then you’re going to lean more towards MW. If you believe that we should adhere to the rules that govern language, you’re going to lean more towards the OED. Neither form is right, but I always readily admit that I conform to a prescriptivist attitude on this site. My audience is comprised largely of students who want to know what’s “right.” Debates on linguistics function best on sites like Language Log.

  5. Funner is obviously not a word. but go ahead and tell your English teacher it is. they probaly don’t know anyway. they just go to dumb conversations like this to ask questions about grammar

    • It’s not about whether it is or isn’t a word. It’s about the etymological history of the word to explain its potential to be a word or not be a word. If you read the post, you can understand why the question would be brought up–why would a word like “fun” differ from a word like “hot”? We say “hotter” and “hottest.” It’s not a “dumb conversation” but a valid linguistic question to understand the evolution of the language.

  6. Yes, Kelly…but “hot” is an adjective. “Fun” is a noun. If you were to look at the noun that coincides with “hot”, that would be “heat”. We do not add “er” and “est” to that word (not counting “heater” in its noun form). “It is heatest while not standing in the shade.” That’s why, despite MW including it, “funner” is not acceptable.

    • BP,

      I’m not exactly sure what your complaint is. I said “hot” is a monosyllabic adjective. I said “fun” is a noun–yet many now attempt to use it as an adjective (hence the inclination to add superlative forms to the word as we would with “hot”). I also said we do not use superlative forms with nouns (my example being “catter”). Are you truly upset because I simply did not make a parallel analogy from “fun” to “hot/heat” and maintain that single example in my post?

      And in terms of dictionaries, I said “most” and not any specific one as you have in your post. MW, along with most online dictionaries, tend to be descriptive. The OED, which is prescriptive, does not include these words.

  7. “You seem to be from the ‘school’ that language is an ever evolving, living, changing thing. I certainly understand that sentiment.”

    That “school,” that “sentiment” go by another name: linguistics.

    • I would contend that linguistics is the study of language. How you choose to study language, though, is up to you.

      I was attempting to illustrate that there are “prescriptive” people and “descriptive” people. My personal theoretical belief is descriptive, but for the purposes of the “Grammar Quick-Fix” section, I learn towards a prescriptivist attitude.

  8. I so agree with you here. Unfortunately, I just heard a McDonalds commercial for their new chicken mcnuggets sauces. They said, “it makes fun times funner.” Seriously! Ugh.

  9. “Yes, Kelly…but “hot” is an adjective. “Fun” is a noun.” This is Incorrect. Merriam-Webster defines fun as a noun or adjective. You can say that you had “a fun evening” so it clearly can be used as an adjective. Therefore, words “funner” or “funnest” should be considered actual words as long as words such as “hotter” and “longest” are acceptable. Debate over.

    • If only the English language were as simple as picking up any ol’ dictionary, looking something up, and having an answer. Unfortunately, if you read my other comments to this post, MW is a descriptivist-leaning dictionary, which means “If people use the word, we will have the word in our dictionary” (e.g. bling-bling is in their dictionary as well). It does not mean these words are considered commonplace or unilaterally acceptable. Now, the OED, which is prescriptivist-leaning, will not include words in the dictionary if they are subversive or not “accepted” by the general populous (and yes, this means many terms originated by minorities and poorer demographics are currently left out of the OED).

      So, in the end, you say your dictionary has it as an adjective. I say mine doesn’t. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? No one. And, as I said before, my posts don’t necessarily reflect my beliefs, but reflect what a student may need to know while writing a paper (as several educators would circle “funner” in red pen).

    • Phew! Thank goodness for the internet, where everything is true, every person who posts anything has a genius-level IQ, and we never need to question our sources!

  10. Kelly appears to be quite educated in English (although no one should use the redundant “comprised of”).

    Just because a word (such as “funner”) is in the dictionary doesn’t mean that it’s good English.

    And that ain’t a lie.

  11. Kelly, after reading this entire post, I feel the need to commend you! I appreciate your direct responses & your clear (and supported) logic. I am especially impressed that, though a bit of sarcasm did show through once or twice, you never once began your response with, “Okay, Idiot…” I have to admit that phrase came to my mind several times as I read the posts of those who chose to argue with you – those who, obviously, had not read your previous posts before granting us insight into their deep ignorance. Thanks for posting this! I found it insightful, informative as well as somewhat amusing. 🙂

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