The Language Perfectionist: Fun and Games

Consider these comments, found online:

  • “All the kits in this bundle are so fun.”
  • “Why is college so fun? No parents!”
  • “How fun is your workplace?”

In these quotations, the word fun, a noun, is used as if it were an adjective. It’s not good English. Why do people do it? Garner’s Modern American Usage explains: “Unlike other nouns of emotion, fun hasn’t had a corresponding adjective to mean ‘productive of fun.'”

To be correct, the examples above simply require the insertion of the adjective much – e.g., “All the kits in this bundle are so much fun.” Lacking that fix, the phrases so fun and how fun are informal and slangy, or what Garner’s calls “casualisms.”

Still further removed from standard English are intensifiers such as funner and funnest, which aren’t even legitimate words.

These locutions might be forgivable in conversation and texting, or for jocular purposes. But in serious and formal situations, it’s best to treat fun as a noun… even if observing the rules isn’t as much fun.

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]