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Do the two terms "all the time" and "always" give the same meaning? I am asking about them as I might replace "all the time" with "always" in a survey frequency scale. For a non-native speaker, I am not sure if they give the same meaning and can safely be used interchangeably?

  • They have slightly different shades of meaning when talking about recurring events. Perhaps you can test if people treat them differently on surveys using an A/B test? – Justin Oct 27 '20 at 17:49
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    They definitely can't be used "interchangeably" in all contexts. For starters, native speakers almost always put adverbial "always" between the subject and verb, but "all the time" has to come before or after the entire clause it modifies. It's not valid English to say something like He all the time puts words in the wrong order. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 27 '20 at 19:00
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    Does this answer your question? slight difference between always and all the time – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 27 '20 at 19:03
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    Note that in some contexts there's quite a big difference. If I say I always drink only the very best champagne, that doesn't necessarily imply I drink champagne very often - it just means that when I do drink champagne, I never have the cheap stuff. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 27 '20 at 19:06
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    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica - Yes, exactly. Sometimes "always" means "every time" instead of "all the time." – Canadian Yankee Oct 27 '20 at 20:02
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"All the time" and "always" are strongly related, but are used in different ways and have slightly different meanings.

Usage: "All the time" is usually placed at the end of the sentence, and "always" precedes the verb. For example:

I always eat baked beans.

I eat baked beans all the time.

"I eat baked beans always" sounds unnatural, and "I all the time eat baked beans" is incorrect English.

Meaning: These imply slightly different things, for example:

Brian always watches action movies.

I would assume from this that when Brian watches movies, he chooses to watch action movies. It doesn't necessarily mean that Brian watches movies very often, but when he does he chooses action-heavy ones.

Brian watches action movies all the time.

This implies that Brian spends a lot of his time watching action movies. There might be other types of movie that he also watches.

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