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Difference between contiguous or continuous

contiguous or continuous

In the exploration of language and its nuances, the terms contiguous and continuous serve as fascinating subjects, each with its own distinct characteristics and applications. Though they may seem similar at first glance, their differences are significant in various contexts. This article aims to dissect these terms, offering a clear, accessible understanding of their definitions, origins, pronunciations, and uses.

Quick Facts Table

DefinitionTouching or adjacent in spaceUninterrupted in time or sequence
OriginLatin “contiguus” meaning closeLatin “continuus” meaning uninterrupted
UsageRefers to things that are in direct contactRefers to things that are unbroken or consistent over time

Difference Between Contiguous OR Continuous

Definition of Contiguous

Contiguous refers to things that are next to each other or touching on the side. This term is often used to describe geographical areas, plots of land, or rooms that are adjacent to each other, where there is a direct physical contact or close proximity without any intervening space.

Definition of Continuous

Continuous, on the other hand, describes something that is unbroken, consistent, or uninterrupted over time or space. It implies an ongoing process or sequence that does not stop or break at any point, like a continuous sound or a continuous line.

Origin of Contiguous

The word contiguous comes from the Latin “contiguus,” which means close or touching. Its usage in English dates back to the early 17th century, emphasizing proximity or direct contact.

Origin of Continuous

Continuous originates from the Latin word “continuus,” meaning uninterrupted or unbroken. Its adoption into English also traces back to the 17th century, reflecting the concept of an unending sequence or duration.


  • Contiguous is pronounced as kən-ˈti-gyü-əs.
  • Continuous is pronounced as kən-ˈtin-yü-əs.

Comparing Contiguous and Continuous

NaturePhysical proximity without overlapUninterrupted state or sequence
ApplicationGeography, real estateTime, processes, lines
Spatial/TemporalSpatial arrangementBoth spatial and temporal
ExampleAdjacent rooms in a buildingA continuous flow of water in a river

This comparison highlights that while contiguous focuses on the aspect of being next to or touching, continuous emphasizes an unbroken state or sequence.

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Contiguous in Sentences

  1. The two states are contiguous, sharing a long border.
    • Here, contiguous indicates that the states are adjacent to each other.
  2. We were looking for a house with contiguous lots to have a bigger yard.
    • Contiguous is used to describe lots that are next to each other.
  3. The museum expanded by adding a new wing contiguous to the original building.
    • Indicates that the new wing is directly adjacent to the original building.
  4. The contiguous 48 states form the main part of the U.S.
    • Refers to the states that are connected to each other, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
  5. The wildlife reserve is made up of several contiguous zones.
    • Suggests that the zones are touching or directly next to each other.

Use of Continuous in Sentences

  1. The continuous humming of the machine was soothing.
    • Continuous describes the unbroken sound of the humming.
  2. She maintained a continuous pace during the marathon.
    • Indicates an unchanging, consistent pace throughout the race.
  3. The river flows continuously from the mountain to the sea.
    • Describes the uninterrupted movement of the river.
  4. Continuous improvement is key to success.
    • Refers to an ongoing, unbroken process of improvement.
  5. The fence provides a continuous barrier along the property line.
    • Continuous indicates that the fence does not break or stop along the boundary.


Understanding the distinction between contiguous and continuous is essential for accurate communication, especially in contexts where precision is vital. Contiguous emphasizes physical contact or proximity, whereas continuous conveys an unbroken or uninterrupted sequence. Recognizing these nuances enhances clarity and effectiveness in language use.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the main difference between contiguous and continuous?
    • Contiguous refers to things that are in direct contact or close proximity, while continuous describes something unbroken or consistent over time or space.
  • Can contiguous and continuous be used interchangeably?
    • No, because they describe different concepts: physical proximity for contiguous and uninterrupted duration or sequence for continuous.
  • How do I decide whether to use contiguous or continuous in a sentence?
    • Consider if you are describing objects that are touching or adjacent (contiguous) or if you are referring to something that is uninterrupted or unbroken (continuous).
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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