The Difference Between Funny and Fun

One of the most common mistakes that Catalan and Spanish students make is confusing these two English words.  “Funny” is an adjective and means divertit/divertido.  “Fun” is a noun and means diversió/diversión.  Funny things make you laugh, fun things are things that you enjoy.  However, the problem is that in Catalan and Spanish divertit/divertido can be used for both.  For example:

Jokes are funny (they make you laugh)

Els acudits són divertits / Los chistes son divertidos

Skiing is fun (it is enjoyable)

L’esquí és divertit / Esquiar es divertido

Obviously it is enjoyable to laugh, but in English the two words have different but similar meanings.  There are some ways to help the student decide which is correct.  First, he or she can ask if it going to make them laugh.  Laughing equals “funny.”  For example, tenir gràcia/tener gracia is usually translated as “funny.”

If the activity is more about enjoyment, then the best translation is “fun.”  For example, divertir-se/divertirse is always translated as “to have fun.”

Here are some more examples of the difference.

My friends and I always have fun when we go out

Els meus amics i jo sempre ens divertim quan sortim

Mis amigos y yo siempre nos divertimos cuando salimos

Have fun!

Diverteix-te!/¡Que te diviertas!

Robert is very funny

En Robert té molta gràcia

Robert tiene mucha gracia

The students were laughing but the teacher didn’t think it was funny

Els estudiants es rien, però el mestre no pensava que fos graciós

Los estudiantes se reían, pero el profesor no creía que fuera gracioso

In conclusión, funny things can be fun, but only things that make you laugh are funny.

Written by Mike Dean Alger for Aston School


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