fun is fun

Fun is fun


The other day, one of my students came up to me with a grammar question. He was armed with a copy of Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English to support his argument.


I always tell my students that the word “fun” is a noun rather than an adjective. The word has been frequently tested in various exams. This student of mine disagreed with me, showing the following entry from the aforementioned dictionary.


Fun adj. [only before noun]

1 enjoyable and amusing:

Try snowboarding – it’s a really fun sport.

a fun day/evening etc

2 a fun person is enjoyable to be with because they are happy and amusing:

She’s a really fun person to be around.


In this dictionary, “fun” is taken as an adjective. The reason seems to be that it is used before nouns. Of course adjectives can be used before nouns, modifying the nouns.


I insisted that we should use the word “fun” as a noun rather than as an adjective. I gave the student my reasons as follows. Virtually I gave a summary of how the word is used.


Fun” is a noun, referring to something you find interesting. Doing fun things gives you pleasure. It is used either behind a noun or before a noun. Look at the following.


(1) Playing computer games is fun.

(2) Picnicking is a fun activity.


Note that “what” is used with the word “fun” in exclamations. Using “how” with “fun” in exclamations is a serious violation of good grammar rules.


(3) What fun it is to chat with you online on the QQ!


This usage strongly supports the idea that “fun” is a noun, for “how” in exclamations is used with adjectives, adverbs or verbs.


Remember that we do not say “a fun”. A typical error among Chinese learners of English is to say,


It is a great fun to swim in a river in summer. (Wrong grammar)


Some native users of English might say “a fun”, but it is generally considered bad grammar. I did encounter “a fun” in a short essay written by an American working in China. I consulted good grammars and all say that it is not good English.


Also learners can confuse “fun” with “funny”. The two words are very different. “Fun” is a noun while “funny” an adjective. “Fun” is used to say what it is, while “funny” is used to say how it is. They differ in meaning too. “Fun” indicates pleasure and interest.


(4) It is fun to swim in a river in summer.


It means swimming gives you pleasure.


Funny” indicates something makes you laugh because it is quite unusual. For example,


(5) Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies are funny.


You laugh when you watch them.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Unknown
    Oct 12, 2006 @ 02:32:53

    It’s my sofa! No one can deprive of from under my ass! Never!


  2. Unknown
    Oct 15, 2006 @ 14:57:57

    Hi ,Shengliver. Long time no see. busy?
    i looked up the word in my dictionary. it is certainly used to be a noun, but as a adjective and verb ,it is an informal  diction.  so i do agree with you.


  3. Andy
    Oct 18, 2006 @ 08:43:36

    What a fun teacher, dear Shengliver. 
    It’s of great fun reading your blog which fell on me by accident.  Getting disappointed with and losing interest in the UC English bedrooms(for they’re often boring as hell) these days I have turned my eyeballs to search for those blogs of reading with no tears.  Finding a good English speaker is not easy in China and bumping into an able English writer is even more difficult.  Teacher Shengliver is a rare animal in my eyes, and a respectable one.  LOL
    The main problem with our students in learning English is they are often under great influence of the Americans. It is really sad to find so many of them are misled by some wrong concepts, resulting in distorted intonation, improper pronunciation, weird accent and fast but blurred speaking full of vulgar American slang and practice.  I have chatted with many English teachers whose English standard varies a lot even among themselves, particularly in spoken English.  Worse still, I know that many colleges have pulled in many unqualified foreign teachers for the sake of low wage.
    I am surprised as well as exhilerated to find the writing of Scavenger in your blog here.  Indeed, he is a very good English writer.
        —   Hellopity


  4. cashmere
    Nov 21, 2006 @ 14:15:13

    Dear teacher! I really enjoy your blog, I hope I could learn a lot from your articles. Because I am really poor in grammar, I do not have any confidence to write in English. Admire you so much!


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