Do my ears deceive me? Did Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs actually say on national television – on Meet the Press, no less – “this is the funnest, most rewarding job that I’ve ever had and it may well be the funnest and most rewarding job that I ever have.”
Funnest? The man who speaks for the President, who speaks for the United States of America, said “funnest?” Twice??
If Mr. Gibbs and I go out to breakfast, we might have fun. We also might have pancakes. Fun and pancakes are both nouns. If our breakfast cannot be the pancakiest meal we ever had, then how could it be the funnest?
Some will argue that “fun” has gained traction as an adjective, as in “That was a fun breakfast.” But if you want to be a stickler about it (and having gone this far down the path, why not go the rest of the way?), “fun” used to describe the breakfast is not an adjective, but an attributive noun. Here’s a great explanation from the blog Grammar Girl:
In the phrase “sugar cookie,” “sugar” is a noun, but it’s being used in an attributive way to describe the cookie. Attributive nouns do exactly the same thing as adjectives. You could say, “I ate a sugar cookie” or “I ate a yummy cookie.” The sentences are constructed the same way, but “sugar” is an attributive noun and “yummy” is an adjective.
No adjective? Then no comparative (funner) and no superlative (funnest).
Your job may be the most fun you’ve ever had, Mr. Gibbs, but it’s not the funnest.