Tag Archives: when should I use continual or continuous

Continual or continuous?

Many people use these words as if they were synonyms, but there is a distinction.

Continual means doing something over a long period of time but with periods of interruption: The dog’s continual barking had become distressing and he decided to see if the neighbours were home.

Continuous means that something occurs over a long period of time without interruption: The continuous drone of traffic on the highway kept him from sleep.

The same distinction applies to the adverbs continually and continuously.

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