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What is the difference between always and forever? Are they synonyms used in different contexts or can they be used interchangeably?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In some contexts they mean the same, but differ syntactically...

I will always love you. I will love you forever. /not/ ?I will forever love you. 1

In other contexts there's a difference in that always usually means continuously, at all [relevant] times, whereas forever usually means for an infinite amount of time into the future. Thus...

He always catches the bus at 8am. /not/ *He forever catches the bus at 8am.

The universe may not last forever. /not/ ?The universe may not last always.

...where some people may find that last construction more acceptable than others.

Here's a useful summary of usages for always, only one or two of which overlap with forever.

1: The song I Will Forever Love You does exist, but it's nowhere near as well-known as I Will Always Love You, written and first recorded by Dolly Parton, massively popularised by the late Whitney Houston.

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"I will forever love you" sounds fine to me. –  Casey Chu Mar 17 '12 at 0:29
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I agree with @Casey, and the O.P. "I will forever love you" sounds acceptable - but it also sounds markedly more flowery and poetic than the other two, so I agree there's a syntactic difference. –  J.R. Mar 17 '12 at 1:41
    
Well, if you say it, I can hardly assert that you don't. But you're well and truly in a minority - this NGram says 25,900 written instances of will love you forever against 727 for "will forever love you". The standard version is over 35 times more common, but the other one does exist - I'll change my * to a ? –  FumbleFingers Mar 17 '12 at 2:42
    
Let me sleep on it –  Jim Mar 17 '12 at 3:02
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@Jim: You can always listen to I'll forever love you by Mark Wills & Leanne Womack on youtube there. Personally, I can't stand that kind of music, and I don't like the grammar in that song either - but whatever floats your boat! –  FumbleFingers Mar 17 '12 at 3:16
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Always: This word can be used to refer to the current habit. Maybe it'll change or end in the future.

Forever: This word can be used to refer to the action which never ends in the future.

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Always generally refers to ongoing things while forever is a definitive way of saying that something will never end.

For example:

  • I always eat breakfast.
  • People have been eating breakfast forever.
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