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Continually vs. Continuously - Correct Grammar Usage

Christina Andrew Mar 5, 2020
Continually and continuously, the two similar sounding words having similar meanings, confounds many a user. Many people inadvertently use them synonymously, which is not totally incorrect. Though they are used with a slightly different intent.

Short definitions!

Continually - a continuous process with long intervals.

Continuously - a continuous process with no intervals.
We all know what 'continuous' means―something that continues to happen. So what does 'continual' mean? This is also something that continues to happen, only over a long period of time, with intervals.
This can be a bit confusing, so, let us remember it this way, how do you like to study before an exam? With breaks? or without breaks?  We're sure the answer is 'with breaks'! There you go! You study continually before an exam. (For those who study without breaks, which is a rare case really, please remember the opposite of it!).
So you got the trick now? Just link it to your studies every time you come across this confusion!

Now let's take a look at the proper definitions of continuously and continually.
Continuously and continually sound similar and have a slight difference in their meanings, which even some dictionaries don't accurately mention! It definitely makes a big difference to your sentence and for the person reading it, if he knows the correct meaning.
It is important to make the proper use of grammar, even if the words almost mean the same. Even the slightest difference in the meanings of words can change the whole meaning of the sentence.
Continuously - This is a process which happens in an uninterrupted and progressive or constant immediate manner.

Continually - This is a process which is repeated frequently/regularly at intervals in the same manner.

To understand this better, we have provided some examples.


▶ She was so excited, she jabbered continuously over the phone, not letting me utter one word!

▶ He continuously ran without stopping for a minute, till he reached home to his ill mother.

▶ The tap ran continuously, wasting gallons of drinking water.

▶ The whole day it drizzled continuously, cooling down the warm weather.
▶ Cold wind blew continuously at the hill top, with fog and little droplets of water falling on my face.

▶ The music went on continuously for hours together at night, disturbing everybody's sleep in the neighborhood!

▶ My boss was continuously staring at my screen, making it difficult for me to concentrate.


▶ The audience kept laughing continually at the stand up comedy show held specially for adolescent children.

▶ Patients suffer continually unattended and unaided.

▶ My bike's problem was continual; eventually I sold it.

▶ The roads were all clogged with water; it rained continually for 2 days.
▶ He knew he couldn't leave office because people kept visiting him continually.

▶ The continual buzzing of mosquitoes all night drove me insane!

▶ The construction went on continually for 2 years.

▶ He was interrogated continually until he finally blurted out the truth.

▶ My friend kept interrupting my work continually!