Continuous vs continual improvement LO19931

Jon Krispin (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 11:51:48 -0500

Replying to At de Lange in LO19888

Greetings to all once again,

At de Lange wrote regarding the difference between continuous and continual:

>The two adjectives are synonyms, but not equivalent. The word
>"continual" incorporates "continuous" and not the other way around.

Greetings At,

This articulates well the distinction that I was trying to draw.
Continual is a synonym for continuous, but the converse is not necessarily
the case. You may always substitute continual for continuous. And you may
sometimes substitute continuous for continual and be correct, but not all
of the time. This is because continuous does not encompass all that
continual does. However, continual does encompass all that continuous
implies. To illustrate, a person saying that they have exercised
continuously throughout their life would fill me with awe (immediately
images of Forrest Gump and his several years of continuous running around
the USA (during all of his waking moments) are conjured up - certainly he
was also running continually). However, if someone told me that they have
exercised continually thoughout their lives, I would immediately think of
something else - maybe they have always made time in their day or week to
fit exercise in, demonstrating that it has always been a priority for

You also commented on my "decisive jump" to my own tacit knowledge when I
introduced the idea that continual describes the process of improvement
while continuous describes the nature (or a specific type) of improvement.
Maybe this isn't the best way for me to formalize my tacit understanding
of the difference. I am still wrestling with the best way to clearly
explain it and my post was only one attempt.

>Whether the words "process" and "nature" are the best words to formalize
>you tacit knowledge, only you would know. I may be wrong, but I suspect
>that you wanted to articulate a "complementary dual" here. If that is the
>case, then the words "process" and "nature" will not do.

I don't think that continuous and continual are complementary duals, at
least not as I understand complements. Neither are they dialectical duals.
To further illustrate my understanding of continual improvement (and I am
still struggling as to how to express my tacit understanding), continuous
improvement + discontinuous improvement, both occurring
persistently/incessantly/repeatedly within an organization, would
represent the ideal whole of continual improvement.

I am curious, you mentioned that "aanhoudend" translates to English as
continual, unceasing, incessant, lasting, uninterrupted, repeated, and
persistent. What is the Afrikaans to English translation for continuous?

Best wishes in return,

Jon Krispin


"Jon Krispin" <>

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