Funner, funnest

Some English traditionalists claim that the only correct comparative form of the adjective fun is more fun, that the only superlative is most fun, and that funner and funnest are only appropriate in the most informal contexts. This rule might once have been justifiable, but today it is obsolete, and it lives on only because not enough people have dared break it. This is beginning to change, as the one-word forms have gained ground in recent decades and have even worked their way into edited writing, but there is still a long way to go.

For now, the fact remains that funner and funnest are, erroneously or not, still considered unacceptable by many editors and other careful English users. So if you are writing, say, a school paper or a job application letter, you might play it safe by using more fun and most fun. The bias against funner and funnest runs deep, so we’re probably going to have to contend with it for another generation at least. Useless language proscriptions tend to long outstay their welcome.

The reason the use of funner and funnest has been discouraged is that fun was until recently only a noun. Nouns do not have comparative (-er) and superlative (-est) forms, but mass nouns such as fun can be modified by more and most (e.g., “I have more water,” or “he has the most courage”). But while some of the stodgier English reference books still pretend fun is not an adjective, most English speakers moved on long ago, and the adjectival fun is rarely questioned. Ultimately, if we accept that fun is an adjective—and we have no choice, because it’s common—then we also have to accept funner and funnest. Comparatives and superlatives of one-syllable adjectives usually take the -er and -est endings, and there’s no good reason fun should be any different. 



The bias against funner and funnest is still strong in edited publications from throughout the English-speaking, but it is possible to find some exceptions:

Apple once again getting ahead of the game, offering something cuter and funner and more Appley than anyone else. [New York Times]

Which is why it’s hardly a surprise that parties – the funnest of all the supposedly fun things – ain’t so fun without booze. [Telegraph]

The RNC should have been the funnest place on Earth to be a Republican this past August 27-30. [Appeal Democrat]

[It] is funner if you don’t have next week’s grocery budget wagered on the over/under. [Portland Daily Sun]

One of the funnest things about playing with data is that you can clash ideas up against one another. [The Age]

Let’s be honest, the veepstakes is the funnest part of any presidential election. [New York Magazine]


Check Your Text


  1. alanottawa says:

    Useful and enjoyable, as are most of your comments, but I do think you should spell “accommodate” with a double-m.

  2. Even if in contemporary usage ‘funner’ and ‘funnest’ may arguably make sense both words seem somewhat awkward in actual use, maybe that’s merely my bias coming through having been taught against the use of either as a young child.

    • Adam Mygrants says:

      It is, but I’m with you. I’m fighting “funnest” because it sounds stupid. I’ll continue to correct people who say it if they are over the age of 9. I’m also considering opening fire on anyone who uses “literally” synonymous with “figuratively”. I understand that language is fluid and any method that properly conveys purpose is theoretically correct, but I’ve got to hold my ground somewhere. I don’t care if you use the wrong there their your whatever, …so long as it does not make sense for any spelling other than the proper spelling, but I will suggest more appropriate adjectives if you use “ginormous” to describe something slightly larger than expected to preserve disambiguous potential in the language.

  3. Grammarphobemomma says:

    I’m a confessed grammar-phobe, but I don’t see the problem with funner and funnest.

  4. I would like to know how ain’t made it to the dictionary and funner is unacceptable. Do you know what is required to add funner to the dictionary? Typing the word funner in the dictionary.

  5. I’m no grammar nazi but, “funner” is worse than nails on a chalkboard, imo.

  6. cantwhistle says:

    Funner and Funnest sound wrong. It’s like saying “Doing a porn.” It just hits the ear wrong.

  7. Laura Hamilton says:

    I think we should still consider ‘Funner’ and funnest’ wrong.

    Why? Because the change seems to have been decided by a handful of academics and mostly marketing professionals.
    Do we get to vote on this? If we don’t, then who does?

    None of my English teachers ever got to arbitrarily change the language when they felt like it. So who decided this new rule?

    There have been many recent attempts to re-edit our language, and all of them seem to be coming from people who are simply too lazy to learn the rules the rest of us honor.

    I refuse to accept ‘thru’ as a spelling of ‘through’.
    I also refuse to accept ‘blu’ in place of ‘blue’ (c’mon blu-ray people, you can afford the extra ‘E’)
    Some thing s are fine the way they are.

    You can have fun, and you can have the most fun, but only an idiot has the most funnest fun of anyone.

    I don’t care if there are several precedents. The New York Times has proven many, may times it can be wrong. Anyone remember the scandals where reporters were faking war reports? Journalists, in general, do not seem to hold the language as sacred and often pervert it for the sake of time and editing.

    90% of people in north America confuse the definitions of ‘Irony” and ‘Sarcasm’ – does that mean we should just give up and swap the official definitions? C’mon people!

  8. Funner and Funnest sound wrong to the ear. I dislike the way our language has become more and more informal and dread the time ‘text speak’ makes it to the dictionary. It is a sign of laziness in my opinion. A short-cut language is a sign of a short-cut culture. Let’s keep our more formal language standards please.

  9. “funner” was used in tongue-in-cheek manner and it was apparent to those who know that it was wrong. Unfortunately not everyone who heard it knew it was meant as a joke.

  10. I disagree with the old form. From a grammar rule standpoint, ‘funner’ and ‘funnest’ are perfectly OK. A single-syllable adjective ending with a consonant will as a rule be transformed to the comparative or superlative by doubling the consonant and adding -er or -est. I understand that there are exceptions (good and bad, for example) but I don’t think “fun” should be an exception, if only to ease the differentiation of the noun and adjective forms of the word. It is just easier to keep the rule “I am having more fun than I did yesterday.” for the noun and “This is funner than playing baseball.” for the adjective. Makes perfect sense to me!

    • Francois Byers says:

      I’m trying to understand why there are exceptions for certain superlative/comparitive adjectives. Also, would someone describe the verifiable explanation of such exceptions? Ceteris paribus is a hard enough justification as it is to champion for support in nomological explanations.

  11. Hello, it is a very useful comment, thanks. I’m just a beginner student, and I want to ask you why, in the 3rd line you wrote “have” when I would have written “has”, according with the present perfect rule. Thanks for your help.

  12. I guess we can look forward to “gooder” and “goodest” in the next generation, huh?

    • That is a gooder point!

    • That’s a different topic, unless you’re rooting for “more good” and “most good.”

      • Gay Barton says:

        Funner and funnest still sound bad, regardless of what some journalists have done. I imagine they are just trying to be cute. This really is a word more like good and bad. And, BTW, it is not necessary to say “more good,” which is also awkward. We already have the word better and best. Why not just use them. But when it comes to fun, more fun and the most fun still sound the best.

    • James Yuzik says:

      I don’t think that those words will make it to common phrasing. Because we already have good and best

  13. Fun is a noun. Why have grammar when you choose to change it to suit the desire of the careless and stupid? Use one of the many appropriate adjectives. Besides the strict adherence to grammar, there is, as is so often the case, another excellent reason for not using ‘fun’ as an adjective: it sounds horrible. Can’t you hear that?

  14. JanisArnoldDravenieks says:

    it makes me a little sick.

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