Some time ago I started noticing the difference between the usage of ‘fun‘ and ‘funny‘, or, rather, I realised that more often than not you cannot replace ‘fun’ with ‘funny’.
I remember a student of mine saying about his three children ‘They are good fun‘ rather than ‘They are funny‘.
I also noticed non-natives often mixing these two words, so I thought I’d investigate it.
In a nutshell, the difference in meaning is the following:
- fun – something that you enjoy doing, or somebody you like spending your time with (if used about a person)
- funny – something that makes you laugh, something comical or humorous
– He is a fun guy (= he is fun to be with, he is a nice person)
– He is a funny guy (= he behaves in a way / does something that makes you laugh)
‘Funny‘ can also mean strange or unusual, as in:
– There’s something funny going on (MacMillan Dictionary).
– The washing machine is making a funny noise again (Cambridge Online Dictionary).
– It’s funny how Alec always disappears whenever there’s work to be done (Cambridge Online Dictionary).
– She’s a funny girl (= she is strange and difficult to understand) (Cambridge Online Dictionary).
Want to know more?
This and this threads on WordReference, my go-to website for linguistic queries, offer a bit more information on the topic.