I was wondering about the register of each of those phrases and the difference between them. I've been told that when the expression is broken down in tiny pieces, has an informal register.

  • 'Most of the time' is less formal. Jul 12, 2017 at 20:32
  • They probably both suggest 70-90% of the time. Jul 12, 2017 at 20:49
  • They are virtually interchangeable in meaning, however I think 'usually' might refer to something more within control, and 'most of the time' a bit more for something that "happens" in a more random but just as probable way. I usually go to bed at 10 pm. Most of the time I fall asleep right away. The driver is usually on time. Most of the time there is an empty seat on the bus. It might be too subtle to really be a rule.
    – Tom22
    Jul 12, 2017 at 22:02
  • A teacher that said "Usually this student hands in his homework on time" I think it implies more respect than "Most of the time this student hands in his homework on time". Also "he's usually polite" suggests better habits than "most of the time he's polite." There is another meaning beyond the frequency in how the exceptions are considered that is hard to explain exactly.
    – Tom22
    Jul 12, 2017 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


In the U.S. I wouldn't say there is necessarily a formality or informality register to the usage of either one. I'll explain my thoughts on this.

As for the first part of your question: They basically mean the same thing: typically, under normal condition, often...

As for how to use them in speech or writing?

  1. "Most of the time" - I think (in the U.S. anyway) this may have a tinge of less formality than "usually" but can actually have more impact than "usually". The reason is the use of the superlative "most".

  2. "Usually" - Probably ever so slightly more formal, and it's the more formal word in writing, but can tend to have less emphasis on how often something is happening; because it does not use any superlative like "most".

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