Difference Between Continuous and Continual

Continuous vs Continual

Continuous and continual are two adjectives in English language that have very different meanings and are yet very confusing for those trying to master the language. This is perhaps due to the fact that their spellings are somewhat similar and thus misleading. Continuous and continual appear to be synonyms, but they are very different from each other. For those who think they can be used interchangeably, this article will come as an eye opener.


Continuous is a word that is used for an event that continues for some duration without any interruption. For example, if one says that it rained continuously for two hours, he is merely telling that the rain did not stop in between those two hours. If someone is complaining that he could not hear the voice clearly on the telephone as a child kept crying continuously, he wants to convey that the child kept crying throughout the time he was at the call. Thus, continuous is the adjective to be used for something that goes on without any interruption or cessation whether it is continuous rain, continuous noise or continuous snowfall.


Continual is an adjective that is used in situations where a condition is repeated frequently. So, if there is a friend who is always in a state of debt, asking for financial help, it is better to describe him as in a continual state of bankruptcy. If you go to a hill station but are forced to stay indoors because of frequent rains, you would say that your vacations were ruined because of continual rains.

What is the difference between Continuous and Continual?

• When a process starts stops and then restarts again and again, the word used to describe it is continual.

• When a process continues for a long time without interruption, the word to be used is continuous.

• When there is no pause or cessation the process is called continuous as when it is raining without any interruption for a long time.

• Continuous has a beginning and an end and is without interruptions as in continuous flow of water.

• If a toy car has batteries that provide sufficient power to run for 5 hours, it is said to have continuous power for 5 hours.

• If it is a rainy season, an area is said to receive rains continually.