Think of the sound gently running water makes. That soft s-s-s-s sound is similar to the s-s-s-s sound in the word continuous. And just as a little stream is always flowing, the word continuous means "always in action." Continual, by contrast, indicates stops and starts.

• Continual refers to an action that occurs with pauses.

• Continuous refers to an action that occurs without pauses.

The archaic phone system continually breaks down. The new security system operates continuously.

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