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Every time is defined as whenever there is a choice by OALD. However, before I read this definition, I have different view about its definition and I always thought that "every time" is similar to "everyday" but happens more often.

Anyway, can I use the phrase this way in this context below:

How often do I feel anxious? Every time!

If every time doesn't work in that context, what is the most possible phrase or word?

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  • 5
    "Every time" sounds weird here, but "all the time" would be perfectly natural. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 9:07
  • 4
    @KefSchecter: "Every time" could be fine, depending on the context: "I go on stage and perform every day. How often do I feel anxious? Every time!". The key, as pointed out in SegNerd's answer, is that the context has to supply (implicitly or explicitly) something that has already happened several times.
    – psmears
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 11:12
  • Example of explicitly provided context: "Every time I go on stage and perform!" It's effectively short for "Every time I go on stage and perform, I feel anxious!"
    – ikegami
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:20
  • 5
    "Every" is usually used in reference to countable objects. Continuous time is not countable.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 17:05
  • Sounds like the punchline of a joke, a la Airplane!'s "No, I've been nervous before."
    – hobbs
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 18:02

3 Answers 3

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It only works if you are speaking in the context of a finite event that has happened several times. For example, you could say:

“I’ve been on 8 first dates this year. How often do I feel anxious? Every time!”

If you just say “How often do I feel anxious? Every time!” without any context, it doesn’t make sense. If you are just speaking generally without reference to a specific thing that happened, it would be better to say “All the time.”

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    Not necessarily a finite event that has happened several times, but one that at least can be imagined to have the possibility of happening several times. The event(s) can be hypothetical or in the future – the main thing is that it makes sense to talk about something occurring on every occasion that the event is/was/will be/would be repeated. Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 14:49
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The question should be "How often do I feel anxious?" and the answer you provide, "Every time!" makes us ask, "Every time what?". Something is missing, e.g. "Every time a big nasty dog barks at me". If you mean to express that you feel anxious "all the time", the question would be "When do you feel anxious?". "How often?" asks for the number of times.

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  • I agree with the first part of this answer. But colloquially, I don't think "how often" has to refer to countable events. "All the time" would be a reasonable answer to "How often do I feel anxious?"
    – LarsH
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 0:02
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It's been implied in other answers, but not stated explicitly, that "every time" and "all the time" use two different meanings of the word "time". As Barmar said in a comment, the former is countable (like beans) and the latter is uncountable (like water).

The construction "every X" forces us to interpret X as countable. Specifically, "every time" uses meaning 3.4 below (abridged from the "time" wiktionary entry, with emphasis added) whereas "all the time" uses meaning 1 (or possibly a version of 2).

time (countable and uncountable, plural times)

  1. (uncountable) The inevitable progression into the future with the passing of present and past events.

    • Time stops for nobody.
    • the ebb and flow of time
  2. A duration of time.

  3. An instant of time.

    3.1. (uncountable) How much of a day has passed; the moment, as indicated by a clock or similar device.

    3.2. (countable) A particular moment or hour; the appropriate moment or hour for something (especially with prepositional phrase or imperfect subjunctive).

    3.3. (countable) A numerical indication of a particular moment.

    3.4. (countable) An instance or occurrence:

    • When was the last time we went out? I don’t remember.
    • see you another time
    • that’s three times he’s made the same mistake
    • Okay, but this is the last time. No more after that!

    3.5 (UK, in public houses) Closing time.

    3.6 The hour of childbirth.

    3.7 (as someone's time) The end of someone's life, conceived by the speaker as having been predestined.

  4. (countable) The measurement under some system of region of day or moment.

  5. (countable) Ratio of comparison.

  6. (grammar, dated) Tense.

  7. (music) The measured duration of sounds; measure; tempo; rate of movement; rhythmical division.

It's probably worth mentioning that you can use "every X" to get the sense of "all the time" if you divide time into countable units. A person who has (and is hopefully seeking help for) Generalized Anxiety Disorder might say:

  • How often do I feel anxious? Every second of the day!
  • How often do I feel anxious? Every waking moment!

If you want to keep the word "time", you need a construction that does not force a countable interpretation, such as:

  • How often do I feel anxious? All the time!

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