usually always

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed May 23 06:24:51 UTC 2007

James Harbeck wrote:
> I heard again today in passing one of my favourite usages: "usually
> always," as in "I usually always park there." I love it because by
> the "official" definitions it's oxymoronic, but people use it and
> understand it, and thus it shows us that for these users (as, I
> suspect, for most, at least in Canada and the US), "always" really
> means not "without exception" but rather "as a rule."
I've long wondered about the use of "always" when used in an imperfect
type sentence. I hear people say things like this:

We always used to go to that restaurant and I'd order the pot de creme
I always used to fish at that spot

I grew up believing this to indicate a frequently occurring event, but
in recent years have come to believe this construction should be taken
to mean once or twice, but lodged fondly in the memory.

Benjamin Barrett
a cyberbreath for language life

The American Dialect Society -

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