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I wonder how should I distinguish between the three idioms:

  • As usual
  • As ever
  • As always

While dictionaries say:

(As usual)
in a way that often happens normally and is expected or exists most of the time:

(As ever)
used for saying that someone’s behaviour or a situation is the same as usual, or the same as it has always been

(As always)
as is usual or expected

For instance, I don't have any idea how the following examples differ in meaning using each case?

1-1- As usual, she was wearing jeans.
1-2- As ever, she was wearing jeans.
1-3- As always, she was wearing jeans.

Or

2-1- As usual, she was the last to arrive.
2-2- As ever, she was the last to arrive.
2-3- As always, she was the last to arrive.

To me, "as ever" means exactly the same as "as always" which indicate more frequency than "as usual".

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The first and third mean pretty much the same thing, but the latter is stronger than the former:

As usual, she was wearing jeans.

This means she wore jeans more often than anything else.

As always, she was wearing jeans.

This is more emphatic, and suggests she never wore anything except jeans. (In reality, we often say things like this even when we know it's hyperbole. In other words, maybe she does wear something other than jeans once in a while, but we use "always" for dramatic effect.)


As for the second one, I don't hear that usage very often, especially at the beginning of a sentence like that; it sounds a little off to me. That said, the phrase as ever is often used in a different way, particular when saying "as _____ as ever." For example, this sound natural and idiomatic to me:

She was as crazy as ever.

That suggests she often exhibited erratic behavior, and was acting that way yet again.

  • You've been here a long time. You should know better than to accept an answer after a mere 15 minutes. (See Not so fast! on meta.) – J.R. Jun 15 at 12:39
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The answer to this could depend upon which version of the English language is being used. For instance, there is American English and there is British English. I've often found that while much of our language usage is similar, there are many idioms that differ greatly in how they are used. Sometimes dialects vary--drastically at times--depending upon where a person is (i.e. "the south", "up north", "out west", etc.) and where people in the community are originally from; this is almost a standard occurrence on American soil.

When writing, I would personally go with "As usual"...if a character is meant to express annoyance or some type of (neg or pos) attitude-based affirmation in regards to how they perceive another character's habitual behavior(s) to be, and "As always"...if a character is simply pointing out something that's standard fare, regular practice, normal habits, etc. without censure. Either can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, but usually at the beginning or end to keep from interrupting flow and in keeping with some typical speech patterns. Examples:

  • "Todd is acting crazy as usual."
  • "As usual, this place is a mess."

and

  • "As always, Greg is ahead of schedule."
  • "Drew is as late as always."

Typically, the only way I'd use "as ever" would be at the end of a sentence. Not that that's a rule, but it does seem less congested and flows better. For example:

  • "Sandy's behavior is as boring as ever."
  • "Mary is as tidy as ever."
  • "Mercy is really charitable and kind as ever."

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