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I realized I don't really know. I've just been using them interchangeably.

If I were to guess, perhaps "continues doing" hints a bit more at a continuous process (continues hitting him for ten minutes) as opposed to repeatable incident (continues to hit him every time he makes a mistake). Though the opposite combinations sound okay too.

  • I have no reference for this whatsoever, but my instinctive reaction is that "continues doing" is technically incorrect - but why, I don't know. – IanF1 Jul 3 '15 at 21:56
  • I attempted to answer and ran into the same roadblock. It looks fine, but you realize that when you use it, it doesn't quite work, it's an odd blend of tenses that doesn't quite roll off the tongue. I suggest "continues in doing" as a replacement, though it feels a bit pretentious. – modulusshift Jul 3 '15 at 22:18
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    It is a matter of licensing (I've added this tag to your question, you can see what it means in the description - it's quite good). These matters are sometimes simply a question of usage - so a native speaker's answer would be best (but even they don't always agree in some cases) – Lucky Jul 3 '15 at 22:18
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    There is no difference in meaning between The rain continued falling all afternoon and The rain continued to fall all afternoon. From corpora search it's evident that continue in doing something is very very rare. – Man_From_India Jul 4 '15 at 2:10
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As I've said in my comment I think that this is a question about licensing and it usually calls for a native English speaker's ear. The best I can offer as a non-native speaker is a corpora search:

It seems that an infinitive is more common after continues than a gerund, both for "do" and "hit" as this Google Ngram shows:

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Another Ngram shows that "continues" is very often followed by "to" and another one shows that in the most frequently used examples that "to" is an infinitive marker. That being said, Google is not impeccable and I haven't tested these for false positives.


As Damkerng T has noticed - whether you should use the -ing form or infinitive depends on the verb you are using (there's licensing for you - never a dull moment with it). For example I'll continue reading would be used more often than I'll continue to read. Same goes for cooking and whisking, for example.

  • Heh, and though it's so far away from "continues to" it's practically a statistical error, I am very gratified in seeing that "continues in" is the next most common. I think this is pretty much the best answer available. – modulusshift Jul 3 '15 at 22:43
  • @modulusshift thanks, but actually StoneyB is The Master of licensing (look at this post for both an eloquent explanation and an eloquent disagreement :-) on that subject) – Lucky Jul 3 '15 at 22:54
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    FWIW (another non-native speaker here), if I've stopped reading a book for a while and want to read it again, it's very likely that I'll use continue reading rather than continue to read. So, the verb after continue can also influence the choice, IMHO. – Damkerng T. Jul 4 '15 at 9:21
  • @DamkerngT. A great example, I'll edit thanks! I myself am not very good at licensing and Google books is sometimes misleading – Lucky Jul 4 '15 at 11:13

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