There IS a Difference
By Annette Rey
Let’s make this simple.
Use continual when you want to convey something that occurs on and off.
- Jason continually called in sick.
- Mike made only a continual effort to better his grades.
Use continuous when you want to convey something that occurs chronically, in a sequence, non-stop.
- The continuous back spasms offered no relief.
- The mountain ridge ran continuously through three states.
I use mnemonics (a technique to help memory) to remind me of the difference between continual and continuous.
I see the last letter of continual – L – and think of lite – meaning a lesser version of something, like lite dressing. It is a lesser version of the original product. In this case, I think of lite as an interrupted process. So continual – L = lite = occurs with interruptions.
- April brings continual showers.
- He continually fell asleep in class.
I see the last letter of continuous – S – and I think of stream – a steady flow of something = NO interruptions.
- The Mississippi River flows continuously from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of New Orleans.
- It is said that during a period of the French Reign of Terror the guillotine continuously operated until blood ran in the streets.
You may find a different reminder that works better for you. Please share it with the rest of us. Many thanks.