Funny Words

Funny Words is a game where students guess which word in a pair is real and which word is fake. It’s a fun way to work on pronunciation, affixes, and vocabulary. It provides an opportunity for students to deconstruct large words, encouraging students to understand word parts and develop reading acuity.


What to do

  1. On your board, overhead, or a large piece of paper, write a strange word that would be fun to say out loud. I’ll use ‘Humuhumunukunukuapuaa’ as my real word example (don’t feel bad if you didn’t know it was real).
  2. Get your students to read it and help them with their pronunciation as they go. For example: Humu/ humu/ nuku/ nuku/ apuaa.
  3. Below your first word, write another that is equally strange, but not real, like ‘wopbopalubapbalapbamboo.’
  4. Have them say each word again and then guess which word is real. A show of hands or getting them to write down ‘1’ or ‘2’ on paper works well.
  5. Repeat the steps with new words or begin class!



  • If your students are ESL learners, make sure they know what the words ‘fake’ and ‘real’ mean before you begin.
  • As always, explain the game very clearly on the board and use an example like the one shown above.
  • The first time you do this game, use a clearly fake word (e.g.: shromfropper) along with a word everyone should know (e.g.: chair) so your students can understand. Tell them it’s just an example, and the next one won’t be so easy.
  • Have your words chosen ahead of time, both fake and real.
  • Act like you’re uncertain of what you’re writing as you go along. This will make it harder for them to guess which word is correct.
  • Get your students to say each word as you write it. This helps them with pronunciation and buys you time as you write long words. Break it up into syllable groups, and then repeat the whole word together.


Sample Words

Any strange or long words will do, but here are some suggested pairs:

Real Fake
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa Wopbopalubapbalapbamboo
Deoxyribonucleicacid Floratonological
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious
Antidisestablishmentarianism Scrumtiddliociousness
Gobbledygook Interpodubnia
Sphygmomanometer Distillamination
Floccinaucinihilipilification Rhinofastidiousity