Many ESL students confuse “fun” and “funny” in English.

If something is entertaining or enjoyable, it is fun. Fun is usually used to talk about things that you do or experience.

The party last night was a lot of fun. (the things I did at the party)

Playing basketball is fun. (the action of playing basketball)

We had fun during our vacation. (the things I did on vacation)

If something makes you laugh, it is funny. Funny is usually used to talk about things that you see or hear.

The joke he told me was very funny. (I heard it.)

The movie was quite funny. (I saw it.)

My professor is funny. (I hear and see him in class.)

Other examples:

  • When we talk about playing a game, we say that it is fun because it is something you do. (If you laugh a lot when you play it, you could say it is funny.)
  • When we talk about a comic movie or play, we say that it is funny because you watch it AND it makes you laugh.
  • When we watch a sports event (soccer game, tennis match, etc.), we say that it’s fun because you don’t laugh when you watch it. (This is an exception to the do/see rule.)

Funny can also mean “strange or different than usual.”

The new bread tasted funny.

When my sister gets sick, she acts funny.

There was something funny about the picture on the wall.

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