Maybe it’s a style and usage hang-up, but I don’t see “continuous” and “continual” as the same word. Sure, they’re synonyms of one another, but last night while watching Super Nanny (I know) I heard Jo use “continuously” when I thought “continually” sounded more correct to my ear.
To be clear, I’ve used both words in both written and spoken settings, but I can’t quite put my finger on a delineation for their usage. Maybe “continual” as an agent/modifier/adverb by a group or a thing and “continuous” are more personal?
I really don’t know. Leave a comment (especially English majors).
Main Entry: conÂ·tinÂ·uÂ·al
Pronunciation: k&n-‘tin-yÃ¼-&l, -y&l
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French continuel, from Latin continuus continuous
1 : continuing indefinitely in time without interruption [continual fear]
2 : recurring in steady usually rapid succession [a history of continual invasions]
– conÂ·tinÂ·uÂ·alÂ·ly adverb
Main Entry: conÂ·tinÂ·uÂ·ous
Etymology: Latin continuus, from continEre to hold together — more at CONTAIN
1 : marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time, or sequence
2 of a function : having the property that the absolute value of the numerical difference between the value at a given point and the value at any point in a neighborhood of the given point can be made as close to zero as desired by choosing the neighborhood small enough
They share a root but am I way off base for hearing/using them differently?