Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 08:31:52 -0500

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: So fun

I believe the adjectival status of 'fun' has grown in AmerEng. (although I

have not seen any formal stufy of it).

When I was a kid (40's - 50's, Louisville) 'fun' was a noun (We had a lot

of fun). Since it was noncount, when it occurred bare in copular

predicative positions (That was fun, It was fun) it had no article marking

(*That was a fun) and seems to have been reanalyzed as a predicative

adjective (by analogy with such strings as 'He was happy.' etc...). I

believe I may have participated in this reanalysis.

I did not, however, take the next step (which I believe happened in the

generation right after me) and allow this new predicative adjectival

'float' to prenominal position (That was a fun party, We had a fun time

last night). My student are puzzled to find that I find these sentences

genrrationally ungrammatical.

Peter's notes attests usage which now shows that 'fun' is a full-fledged

adjective (at least in the mouths of younger speakers), and I have heard

'so fun' as well as other strings which include clearly adverbial modifiers

of 'fun' (e.g., 'We had a real(ly) fun time). It appears to me that such

data show that the adjectivalization of 'fun' is complete.

This usage is noted by lexicographers. Even in the dusty American Heritage

(1969) we find an entry for fun as 'adj. Informal' with the citation 'a fun

group of people.'

I do have a 'fun' verb, however, where I bet a lot of y'all don't. E.g., 'I

was just (a)-funnin' you.' I.e., 'I was just teasing, fooling you.' DARE

shows this as chiefly Southern and South Midland.

Dennis (always a fun guy) Preston


A colleague just asked me whether I'd ever heard the expression "so fun".

It sounds odd to me, and I THINK I'd say "such fun" or "so much fun", but

I'm not 100% sure that I might not have said "so fun" experimentally as a

kid, or that I have never heard anyone else say it. I can't quite get to

the bottom of my own usage grammatically, since I'm pretty sure that when

I say "It was fun", I'm thinking fun(adj.) and not fun(noun), and if this

is the case, the adverb "so" would be appropriate, not the adjectivess

"such" or "so much".

My colleague says her daughter-in-law, who is from California, says it

all the time, and she wonders if it's California regional usage. If so,

maybe it's regional elsewhere as well. Or is it just idiolectal?

Any thoughts?

Peter McGraw

Linfield College

McMinnville, OR