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Continually vs. Continuously: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on September 28, 2023
Continually refers to actions that happen repeatedly but with breaks in between, while continuously describes actions that occur without any breaks or interruptions.

Key Differences

Continually and continuously are adverbs that describe the frequency and duration of actions, but they are used differently. "Continually" describes actions that are repeated regularly but with intervals or breaks in between. It implies that the action occurs over and over but not necessarily without interruption. For instance, if it's raining continually, it means that it's raining on and off, not non-stop.
On the other hand, "continuously" refers to actions that occur without any breaks or interruptions. It implies a steady, unceasing occurrence of the action. If it's raining continuously, it means that it's raining steadily without stopping. The use of "continuously" implies a sense of permanence and constancy in the action, as it happens without any pauses or interruptions.
To illustrate, if a person is continually talking, it means that the person talks often but takes breaks, maybe to catch their breath or to let others speak. However, if a person is talking continuously, it means that the person is talking non-stop, without any breaks. This subtle distinction is crucial for the accurate portrayal of scenarios and situations, enabling more precise communication.
Further, "continually" is usually used to describe situations or actions that might be annoying or problematic because they keep occurring. "Continuously," however, is often used in a more neutral or technical context, emphasizing the unbroken nature of the action's duration. The choice between continually and continuously significantly impacts the meaning conveyed, making it essential to use them appropriately based on the context.

Comparison Chart


Regularly but with breaks
Without any breaks or interruptions


Often for annoying or problematic recurring situations
Neutral or technical, emphasizing unbroken duration

Frequency & Duration

Repeated with intervals
Steady, unceasing occurrence


Actions occur with interruptions or breaks
Actions occur without any interruptions or breaks


More casual, everyday scenarios
More formal, technical, or scientific contexts

Continually and Continuously Definitions


Regularly, but not ceaselessly.
The dog continually barked at every passerby.


Without interruption or gaps.
The computer has been running continuously for a week.


Repeatedly but with intervals in between.
He continually checked his watch during the meeting.


Happening without stopping.
The machines operated continuously.


Frequently occurring, with pauses.
The baby continually cried throughout the night.


In a continual manner, without varying.
The fan whirred continuously.


Happening again and again within short periods.
She continually interrupted him while he was speaking.


Unceasingly; constantly.
The river flows continuously.


Recurring regularly or frequently
Continual improvements in technology.


In an unbroken sequence or extent.
The road stretched continuously before us.


Not interrupted; steady
A process that requires continual monitoring.


Uninterrupted in time, sequence, substance, or extent.


In a continual manner; non-stop.


Attached together in repeated units
A continuous form fed into a printer.


In regular or repeated succession; very often.


Of or relating to a line or curve that extends without a break or irregularity.


Without cessation; unceasingly; continuously; as, the current flows continually.
Why do not all animals continually increase in bigness?


Of or relating to a function between two topological spaces such that the preimage of any open set in the range is an open set in the domain.


In regular or repeated succession; very often.
Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.


Without pause.
The river continuously flows to the sea, it will never pause to let us cross on dry land.


Seemingly without interruption;
Complained continually that there wasn't enough money


In a continuous maner; without interruption.


At regular or irregular intervals; intermittently.
The light flickered continually.


At every point;
The function is continuously differentiable


With unflagging resolve;
Dance inspires him ceaselessly to strive higher and higher toward the shining pinnacle of perfection that is the goal of every artiste


Does continuously suggest a constant flow?

Yes, continuously implies an unbroken, constant flow or sequence.

Can continually mean the same as continuously?

While sometimes used interchangeably, continually implies interruptions, whereas continuously means without interruption.

Is continuously more formal than continually?

Continuously can be more formal and is often used in technical or scientific contexts.

Can continually be used for irritating situations?

Yes, continually is often used to describe annoying or inconvenient actions that keep happening.

Can something happen continuously in a scientific experiment?

Yes, continuously is often used to describe unbroken sequences in scientific contexts.

Is continuously synonymous with constantly?

Yes, continuously and constantly can both mean happening without interruption.

Can I use continually for frequently occurring actions?

Yes, continually is suitable for actions that happen frequently with breaks in between.

Can a machine run continuously?

Yes, machines can run continuously, meaning they operate without stopping.

Does continually imply a stop and start?

Yes, continually implies actions that start and stop repeatedly.

Can a person speak continually?

Yes, if a person speaks continually, they speak often with interruptions or breaks.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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