Continually vs. Continuously | Difference, Examples & Quiz

Continually and continuously are related words, but they have slightly different meanings.

  • Continually is an adverb meaning “frequently” or “regularly.”
  • Continuously is an adverb meaning “constantly” or “without interruption.”
    Examples: Continually in a sentence Examples: Continuously in a sentence
    The privacy policy is updated continually. Humans breathe continuously.
    I continually lose my keys. Martin complained continuously for twenty minutes.

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    What does continually mean?

    Continually is an adverb of frequency meaning “regularly.” It’s used to refer to an action that occurs frequently but with periods of interruption. The adjective form of “continually” is “continual.”

    Examples: How to use continually
    The building has been continually renovated.

    If you continually practice the trumpet in the middle of the night, you will be evicted.

    Oscar is continually late for work.

    Tip
    If you’re unsure whether you’re using continually correctly, substitute it with the word “repeatedly.”

    • If the sentence still makes sense, continually is the correct word to use.
    • If not, you probably mean continuously.

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    What does continuously mean?

    Continuously is an adverb of frequency meaning “constantly.” It’s used to refer to an action that occurs without interruption. The adjective form of “continuously” is “continuous.”

    Examples: How to use continuously
    Aaron worked continuously for eight hours without taking a break.

    The moon continuously moves Earth’s tides.

    It has been raining continuously for two days.

    Tip
    If you’re unsure whether you’re using continuously correctly, substitute it with the word “constantly.”

    • If the sentence still makes sense, continuously is the correct word to use.
    • If not, you probably mean continually.

    Worksheet: Continuously vs. continually

    You can test your understanding of the difference between “continuously” and “continually” with the worksheet below. Fill in either “continuously” or “continually” in each sentence.

    1. The owner of the restaurant _______ changes the menu.
    2. During winter, it is _______ dark at the North Pole.
    3. The lecturer spoke _______ for an hour and _______ made mistakes.
    4. My neighbor _______ parks his car in my parking spot.
    5. The elevator has been _______ out of order for two years.
    1. The owner of the restaurant continually changes the menu.
      • “Continually” is an adverb of frequency meaning “regularly.” In this case, it means that the menu changes are frequent but not literally happening at all times.
    1. During winter, it is continuously dark at the North Pole.
      • “Continuously” is an adverb of frequency meaning “constantly.” In this case, it means that the darkness is uninterrupted.
    1. The lecturer spoke continuously for an hour and continually made mistakes.
      • “Continuously” is used to refer to an action that occurs without interruption. “Continually” is used to refer to an action that occurs regularly but with periods of interruption.
    1. My neighbor continually parks his car in my parking spot.
      • In this instance, “continually” (meaning “regularly”) is correct. The neighbor is not doing this at all times, just as a regular habit.
    1. The elevator has been continuously out of order for two years.
      • In this instance, “continuously” (meaning “without interruption”) is correct. The elevator has never worked during the time period being discussed.

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        Frequently asked questions

        What is a synonym of “continuously”?

        Some synonyms and near synonyms of continuously include:

        • Ceaselessly
        • Constantly
        • Perpetually
        What is a synonym of “continually”?

        Some synonyms and near synonyms of continually include:

        • Frequently
        • Regularly
        • Repeatedly

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        Ryan, E. (2023, March 16). Continually vs. Continuously | Difference, Examples & Quiz. Scribbr. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/commonly-confused-words/continually-vs-continuously/

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        Eoghan Ryan

        Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.