‘Continually vs Continuously': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 14, 2023

Wondering what the difference is between ‘continually’ and ‘continuously’? We’ll go over that in detail in this article, plus teach you how to pronounce the word and use it in a sentence.

Don’t feel like skimming? Here’s the short answer:

  • ‘Continuously’ refers to an action that happens without stopping.
  • ‘Continually’ refers to an action that occurs regularly or frequently.

As you can see, these words are not synonyms and should not be used interchangeably, as they often are.

‘Continually’ vs. ‘Continuously’ – What’s the Difference?

The difference between the words is that ‘continuously’ refers to something that happens without stopping.

However, ‘continually’ means something that happens regularly or frequently.

These words sound similar but not completely the same, which means they can't be homophones.

When to Use ‘Continually’ or ‘Continuously’

Use ‘continually’ when you’re talking or writing about something that happens all the time.

For example:

  • You might say that your mom continually washes your dirty clothes.

Use ‘continuously’ when you’re referring to something that recurs nonstop.

For example:

  • You might use it to refer to the TV running all day.

Definition of 'Continually': What Does 'Continually' Mean? 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘continually’ is:

  • In a constantly repeated manner or over and over.

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Constantly
  • Much
  • Frequently
  • Again and again
  • Hourly
  • Often
  • Repeatedly
  • Oftentimes

Definition of 'Continuously': What Does 'Continuously' Mean?

The same dictionary defines ‘continuously’ as:

  • Without interruption.

A Brief History

The first known use of the word ‘continuously’ was in 1663, and it meant the same thing it means today.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Continually' and 'Continuously'

Wondering how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce ‘continually’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


To pronounce ‘continuously’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use 'Continually' in a Sentence

Now that we know what the words mean and how to pronounce them let’s take a look at some examples of how to use them in a sentence correctly.

  • My father is the one who continually makes dinner for the family.
  • I don’t mind continually doing all the work for our group projects.
  • She continually misses basketball practice. Why does she even get to play?
  • We shouldn’t have to continually register our cars every two years. I don’t get the point.

How to Use 'Continuously' in a Sentence

Now, let’s see some examples of ‘continuously’ in a sentence.

  • She rode her bike continuously for thirty minutes around the neighborhood.
  • Maria continuously tapped her foot until she was called into the principal’s office.
  • My dog continuously chased his tail for five minutes. It was super funny.
  • My little brother use to bang his head on the wall continuously for at least ten minutes.

Final Advice on ‘Continually’ and ‘Continuously’

 To recap, we learned that:

  • ‘Continuously’ means something that happens without stopping.
  • ‘Continually’ is something that occurs regularly or frequently.

Remember, never use these words interchangeably because they don’t mean the same thing.

If you ever get confused about the meaning or usage, you can always come back to refresh your memory. We’ve got a ton of content on confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning the language. Go check it out.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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