This month has been full of proofreading tips to help us all remember those words many of us don’t catch the first time through a paragraph. One more word I’d like to give attention to is continuous. There is a big difference between continual and continuous.
A continual murmur is the sound the crowd makes in a large room. It isn’t the same volume the whole time they’re in there. Most of the time the crowd noise starts with a few people visiting, so it’s a small hushed noise. It might break off and let a little silence in for a moment, but the noise usually starts up again. With most crowds, the noise gradually gets louder unless there is a distraction which causes people to stop and stare, stilling the noise for a bit. This is a continual noise. But it’s not continuous.
At night, I can stay up late and work in silence when everyone else is in bed. The only noise I hear is the refrigerator. I don’t even hear it running because it’s so easy to tune out the low hum of the motor. There isn’t a variation of volume like with a crowd noise. It’s constant. The sound is continuous.
I can understand why it’s easy for people to get these two words mixed up. But once you understand the differences between words with similar meanings, you are more able to use them correctly. These days it isn’t difficult for me to remember that continual means something continues over time with short breaks and continuous means uninterrupted.
If we wanted to create a journal of Top Ten Proofreading Tips, it might come in handy when editing that rough draft. I’ve listed seven words on this blog that we could include: its, lay, ensure, imply, you’re, discreet, and continuous.
Are you thinking of more words to include when you create your proofreading list? Yes? Good. Happy proofreading!