Professional Style

Continual vs. Continuous

April 2008
Spot the Error

If it hadn’t been for the continuous interruptions from disgruntled employees, the shareholders meeting would have ended on time.

Which to use ... continuous or continual? There’s a difference, you know. Continuous means unbroken, such as the continuous rattle of a fan or the continuous drone of a speaker. Continual, on the other hand, means over and over again, such as continual software upgrades or continual interruptions (as in the “shareholder” sentence above).

Don’t think you’ll be able to remember the difference? Try this. Think of the O-U-S ending of continuous as standing for One Uninterrupted Sequence. So, if the occurrence is more of a repetition than an uninterrupted sequence, use continual.

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