Communication 101

Continually vs. Continuously: What's the Difference?

There are many words in the English language that either sound similar or have similar meanings, and as a result, they are sometimes used interchangeably by mistake. Many commonly confused words fall under the term “homophones.”

Homophones refer to one of two or more words that sound alike phonetically but differ in their meaning, spelling, or origin. Some examples of homophones are: allude vs. elude, immigrate vs. emigrate, or lightning vs. lightening.

However, not all words used the wrong way interchangeably are homophones. This can be confusing, especially to those learning English as a second language. But believe it or not, these are common mistakes even the best native English speakers make. 

For this article, we will discuss the words continually vs. continuously or continual vs. continuous, along with what each means, their synonyms, key differences, and how to use them to improve your speech and communication skills.

When it comes to parts of speech, both words are adverbs that refer to duration in time. They can easily be mistaken for the other since both words share the Latin root “continuare,” which means “to join together or connect.” Despite their similarities, they have distinct differences.

Read on to learn what they are so you’ll never have to wonder which word to use in speech or writing again!

What Does Continually Mean?

The word continual, an adjective, and ‘continually,’ an adverb, are both used to describe duration. “Continually” can be referred to as recurring events that happen frequently or intermittently regularly. The most important thing to note is that “continually” is understood as having repeated or regular intervals of interruption or breaks when you compare it to the word “continuously.”

What Are Some Examples of Continually in a Sentence?

“Continually” describes something that occurs regularly or in succession but with breaks in between.

Some example sentences include:

  • The standard operating manual is continually updated.
  • The continual crack of thunder kept me awake throughout the night.
  • He continually knocked on the door every five minutes until I answered.

These examples describe a repeated occurrence, whether it’s updating a manual, a crack of thunder, or a knock on the door with an interruption between each event. While they are monitored, it isn’t nonstop but rather a series of regular and somewhat predictable occurrences.

What Are Some Synonyms of Continually?

A synonym is a word that has the same or nearly the same meaning. Some synonyms that you can use interchangeably with “continually” are: frequently, repeatedly, regularly, consistently, recurring, repetitive, and intermittently to name a few. 

What Are Some Antonyms of Continually?

An antonym is a word having the opposite meaning of another word. Some antonyms for “continually” are: completed, ceasing, sporadically, occasionally, irregularly, infrequently, etc. 

What Does Continuously Mean?

The word continuously or the corresponding adjective continuous means an event occurring for a long period of time without stopping. “Continuously” also describes duration, specifically regarding things that are constant in time or sequence. Other synonyms for continuously would be consistently, perpetually, incessantly, non-stop, and relentlessly.

Some example sentences using the word continuous:

  • He spoke continuously for one hour before taking questions from the audience.
  • The movie played for two continuous hours.
  • The baby cried continuously for ten minutes straight.

What’s the Difference Between Continually and Continuously?

Both words refer to duration, but the difference lies in frequency. For example, you may try to ace your exams every semester by studying all night for your exam. In a nutshell, continually refers to repeated occurrences in a series or a routine. It is something that occurs without interruption, such as a song or speech.

The Most Common Mistakes Using Continual vs. Continuous

While both words can refer to something ongoing or non-stop, they each emphasize distinct differences and carry slightly different meanings. Because they are similar, they are a set of words used interchangeably as a common mistake by many people.

For example, “I received continuous phone calls throughout the day from the hospital about uncle Bill’s progress” should read “I received continual phone calls throughout the day from the hospital about uncle Bill’s progress.” If the phone calls were continuous, they would technically never get off the phone with the hospital.

Which Word Should I Use?

It may be tough to remember which word to use, whether speaking or writing, but with practice, it will become second nature, just like throwing a softball continually or repeatedly. It may help you to remember which word to use by coming up with some of your own key phrases.

When To Use Continually

You will use the word continually in a sentence when referring to something that repeats itself over and over, such as continual monthly appointments or meetings. Think of events in your life that happen regularly, and that’s when you would apply the word continually.

When To Use Continuously

You would use the word continuously when something is occurring without ceasing, such as a car horn continuously blaring or a population continuously growing. Think of incidents that occur without interruption, and that’s when you would apply continuously.

Improve Your Communication Skills

Why Speaking Correctly Matters

Frequently using incorrect words or parts of speech can become a bad habit. Knowing when to use certain adverbs or adjectives in a sentence, whether they are homophones, a homonym, or just have similar meanings, will improve your speech and boost your confidence.

Speaking correctly is essential for all forms of communication, whether talking to your college professor, your boss, or in front of a large audience. In addition, having correct and confident speech gives us one less thing to worry about if we tend to get nervous.

Public speaking is a common fear. In fact, it’s one of the most common fears — 77% of people all over the globe get at least a little anxious when speaking in front of others.

This fear is called “glossophobia,” and we’ll share more about it below:

What Is Glossophobia?

Since many people have glossophobia (speech anxiety) or struggle with their communication skills, it is a good idea to boost your confidence by mastering not only your subject matter but the tiny, minute details of how you present.

In the case of this article, you would want to focus on English language specifics, including figurative speech, active voice, and more. These skills aren’t only career advancers but can help in social circles too. 

Preparation Counts: Overcoming Glossophobia

As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This couldn’t be more true regarding public speaking. Most people are not natural-born speakers or gifted in the art of communication; countless others have what’s called Glossophobia, a social anxiety disorder characterized by an immense fear of public speaking

Practicing the art of public speaking is important because it allows you to inform people, entertain them, and motivate others to take action. Becoming a skilled public speaker can open doors in your career that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to. Public speaking can also help you develop an executive presence, which may positively influence your life and career in the future.

Despite public speaking being such a common fear, it is possible to overcome it. Preparation is the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. And preparation often looks like feeling fear or anxiety and pushing forward anyway. 

You can also prepare by using relaxation and breathing techniques, studying professional speakers, and practicing in safe environments. Then you can gradually speak up in larger social settings until you become more comfortable and confident with speaking publicly. 

To really boost your confidence, look to the professionals in the world of speech:

How Can a Communication Coach Help?

If improving your speech and communication skills has been on your to-do list for some time, have you ever considered a communication coach? After all, the foundation of success in our professional and personal lives is based on this very skill. 

You could hire a professional communication coach, but that might take time and money you don’t have right now. What if there was a discreet way to learn as you go? 

Learn on the Spot: Poised

Poised is your personal AI communication coach (compatible with Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and more) that provides you real-time feedback and personalized lesson plans to help you improve on the spot. 

Whether practicing for a public speaking engagement, a class presentation, or engaging in virtual interviews, Poised operates seamlessly and discreetly. It will notify you of your habits, such as filler words, rambling, speaking pace, clarity, and more, so you can correct them before it becomes a habit.

The best part is no one knows you’re using it. Poised also gives you a detailed report after every meeting or presentation you deliver to continue to improve on your own time. 

You don’t have to struggle with speaking correctly any longer. Poised will develop personalized lesson plans to help you improve in areas of weakness, including speaking at the correct pace, breathing, intentional pausing, managing nerves, and more!


The Difference Between Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs | Business Insider

Why Breathing is Key to Persuasive Public Speaking | Harvard Business Review

Glossophobia or the Fear of Public Speaking | Verywell Mind

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