Permanently vs Invariably

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roxanelag

Senior Member
Spanish-Spain
Good afternoon, how are you doing?
Could you help me out with the difference between permanently and invariably?
My guess is that permanently means that something happens/is like this or like that always and it will carry on happening/being like this/that for ever.
On the other hand, invariably means that something takes place, or is like this/that, always
in the same way but has nothing to do with time.

This is why in this sentence 'The stories invariably focus on domestic problems.' permanently doesn't collocate. Am I in the right direction?
It is true that in some websites both of them are deemed as synonyms.

Thank you for your time.
Regards

P.d: I doubled checked the answer key this time.
 
  • anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I would say that your understanding of the differences between these two words is perfectly accurate. And you are correct, "permanently" would not fit in your example sentence.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The difference is clear:
    Permanent is a reference to time = for all time
    invariable is a reference to a state = unchanging.
    This is why in this sentence 'The stories invariably focus on domestic problems.' permanently doesn't collocate.
    The reason that you think that "permanently" doesn't collocate, it that you have given no context at all. I can think of contexts in which permanently would collocate.
     

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    I would say that your understanding of the differences between these two words is perfectly accurate. And you are correct, "permanently" would not fit in your example sentence.
    Thanks anthox! A relief since I haven't been quite accurate in the last weeks ;)
    Thanks for your help.

    Regards
     

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    The difference is clear:
    Permanent is a reference to time = for all time
    invariable is a reference to a state = unchanging.

    The reason that you think that "permanently" doesn't collocate, it that you have given no context at all. I can think of contexts in which permanently would collocate.
    Hi PaulQ, how are you?
    I attach the file with the whole text for context. Please, keep in mind that the screenshot comes with my answers before correction, so there are several errors. There is another mistake is the same paragraph (bears is also wrong), for example.
    I am not sure whether in these exercises the answers are dictated by more context than that provided for the sentence containing the gap.
    In any case, I am interested in your view on this 'context' matter.

    Thank you very much once more.

    Regards
     

    Attachments

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would use "invariably" here: it refers to the unchanging theme of domestic problems, rather than never showing anything that is not a domestic problem.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The sentence is about the many stories in each soap opera (including stories that haven't been written yet) that reoccur, not stories that are "permanent". The sentence wants to tell you that every time (always) a new story starts it is the same as an older story.

    Every time I go to the ice cream parlor, I get vanilla.
    When I go to the ice cream parlor, I always get vanilla.
    When I go to the ice cream parlor, I invariably get vanilla.
    When I go to the ice cream parlor, I permanently get vanilla. :eek: :cross: I can't leave the ice cream store because "getting vanilla" is permanent? :eek::confused:
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Permanent" means that something happens once. Not "the same each time". Just once.

    "Invariably" means the same thing happens each time, for many repeated situations.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I must disagree slightly on the question of "invariably". "Invariably" = unchangingly.

    To vary indicates change, not time or frequency. The fact that change requires time is, to an extent, misleading.

    When I go to the ice cream parlor, I invariably get vanilla.
    Whenever I go to the ice cream parlor, I do not change [the flavour/my habit], I get vanilla.
     

    much_rice

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I must disagree slightly on the question of "invariably". "Invariably" = unchangingly.

    To vary indicates change, not time or frequency. The fact that change requires time is, to an extent, misleading.
    I disagree with you on this. When I've seen "invariably" it has referred to the same event happening over a large number of trials. It is about frequency. You can't say "invariably" for something that happens once, but you can say "permanent" for a single event that remains true forever. "Unchangingly" doesn't work as a gloss, since that can be used for things in the "permanent" category.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    When I've seen "invariably" it has referred to the same event happening over a large number of trials.
    As I said, change is related to time. Without time, there can be no change. However, "invariably" comes as a result of an observation or inference. These have to have an instance and it is these that have intervals between them, not the state of the thing that is observed as unchanged. Whenever you "try" (i.e. test) it, it is unchanged. vary - WordReference.com Dictionary of English
     

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    I disagree with you on this. When I've seen "invariably" it has referred to the same event happening over a large number of trials. It is about frequency. You can't say "invariably" for something that happens once, but you can say "permanent" for a single event that remains true forever. "Unchangingly" doesn't work as a gloss, since that can be used for things in the "permanent" category.
    As I said, change is related to time. Without time, there can be no change. However, "invariably" comes as a result of an observation or inference. These have to have an instance and it is these that have intervals between them, not the state of the thing that is observed as unchanged. Whenever you "try" (i.e. test) it, it is unchanged. vary - WordReference.com Dictionary of English
    Hi PaulQ and Much-Rice, I see your points and... it is too much for me. But I am going to try an educated guess over the original sentence (taking risks by using new expressions: 'educated guess') 'The stories invariably focus on domestic problems.':
    I can't use 'permanently' because soap opera is not a whole but something made up of an indefinite number of stories with a beginning and an end.

    That's my best. :D

    After studying your posts this has come to mind:
    The new curfew imposed by the authorities is permanent (It will last until further notice).
    The new curfew imposed by the authorities is permanent and it will go invariably from 12am to 12pm until further notice.
    What do you think about that? Are the sentences idiomatic? ;)

    This forum is an incredible tool for learning.
    Thank you very much for your time.
     
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    much_rice

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I think you've got it figured out Roxanelag :D

    "Invariably" is the best choice for the soap-opera sentence, and as for these sentences—
    The new curfew imposed by the authorities is permanent (It will last until further notice).
    The new curfew imposed by the authorities is permanent and it will go invariably from 12am to 12pm until further notice.
    What do you think about that? Are the sentences idiomatic? ;)
    You've got the right idea. A curfew might not be a very useful example here, though:

    "Permanent" implies that it will never end, regardless of further notice. Death is permanent, tattoos are permanent, but in most societies, we expect a curfew to be temporary. The most idiomatic choice would be "The curfew will last until further notice" or "The curfew will last indefinitely" (there is no defined end to it, but an end is possible in the future). Your use of "invariably" to describe the curfew's hours makes sense, but we probably wouldn't use any adverb there. If a curfew is imposed, we assume it will have defined hours that stay the same from day to day. The hours are invariable, but you don't need to say so explicitly: "The authorities have imposed a curfew until further notice. No one may be outside of their home between 12:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., on pain of imprisonment." Quite a strict curfew, I might add :eek:

    But I am going to try an educated guess over the original sentence (taking risks by using new expressions: 'educated guess')
    :thumbsup: This is the correct use of "educated guess." You aren't 100% sure, but you have some information that allows you to make a guess that has a higher chance of being right.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    [...]
    'The stories invariably focus on domestic problems.':
    I can't use 'permanently' because soap opera is not a whole but something made up of an indefinite number of stories with a beginning and an end.
    Invariably is the right choice here because it means that on each occasion when you consider one of the stories, it has this focus.

    Permanently is unsuitable because it denies any possibility of variation; invariably accepts the possibility of variation, but states that no variation occurred.
     

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    I think you've got it figured out Roxanelag :D

    "Invariably" is the best choice for the soap-opera sentence, and as for these sentences—

    You've got the right idea. A curfew might not be a very useful example here, though:

    "Permanent" implies that it will never end, regardless of further notice. Death is permanent, tattoos are permanent, but in most societies, we expect a curfew to be temporary. The most idiomatic choice would be "The curfew will last until further notice" or "The curfew will last indefinitely" (there is no defined end to it, but an end is possible in the future). Your use of "invariably" to describe the curfew's hours makes sense, but we probably wouldn't use any adverb there. If a curfew is imposed, we assume it will have defined hours that stay the same from day to day. The hours are invariable, but you don't need to say so explicitly: "The authorities have imposed a curfew until further notice. No one may be outside of their home between 12:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., on pain of imprisonment." Quite a strict curfew, I might add :eek:


    :thumbsup: This is the correct use of "educated guess." You aren't 100% sure, but you have some information that allows you to make a guess that has a higher chance of being right.
    That is a thorough answer much_rice. I appreciate it. Thank you. And also for answering to my ‘educated guess’ adventure:D I’ll be back soon for sure with more doubts. Endless learning this one;)

    Best regards
     

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    Invariably is the right choice here because it means that on each occasion when you consider one of the stories, it has this focus.

    Permanently is unsuitable because it denies any possibility of variation; invariably accepts the possibility of variation, but states that no variation occurred.
    Thanks Thomas for your explanation. It certainly adds something new and useful.
    Thanks for your help.

    Regards
     

    swedrup

    Member
    Czech
    The actual sentence comes from 2015 CPE handbook (for Cambridge Proficiency exam). And the following 4 options are given:
    A [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories permanently focus on domestic problems :cross:
    B [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories uniformly focus on domestic problems :cross:
    C [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories perpetually focus on domestic problems = constantly, again and again :confused:
    D [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories invariably focus on domestic problems = without fail, always :tick:

    Why would perpetually not work in the context say the tone is ironic? Anybody has a clue?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The actual sentence comes from 2015 CPE handbook (for Cambridge Proficiency exam). And the following 4 options are given:
    A [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories permanently focus on domestic problems :cross:
    B [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories uniformly focus on domestic problems :cross:
    C [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories perpetually focus on domestic problems = constantly, again and again :confused:
    D [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories invariably focus on domestic problems = without fail, always :tick:

    Why would perpetually not work in the context say the tone is ironic? Anybody has a clue?
    That would be a reason for the soaps not appealing to viewers.

    As you suggest, Swedrup, perpetually would add a negative tone to the sentence.
     

    swedrup

    Member
    Czech
    That would be a reason for the soaps not appealing to viewers.
    So, you're suggesting that "perpetually" would be prone to making it unappealing to viewers . Not that it would just imply a tone of irony - that the author is simply looking down on soap operas and their audience. OK, then it sheds light on a perspective I seem to have missed. Thanks for your input.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So, you're suggesting that "perpetually" would be prone to making it unappealing to viewers . Not that it would just imply a tone of irony - that the author is simply looking down on soap operas and their audience. OK, then it sheds light on a perspective I seem to have missed. Thanks for your input.
    I'm saying that the adverb in the context has strong negative overtones.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    C [soaps appeal to viewers since] the stories perpetually focus on domestic problems = constantly, again and again
    The word "perpetually" sounds wrong here to me. Note that I'm AE, not BE. To me "perpetually" means "continously; non-stop". It cannot mean "repeatedly". But the meaning here is clearly "repeatedly". Each new story focuses on this. I might say "constantly" to indicate "repeatedly", but not "perpetually".
     

    swedrup

    Member
    Czech
    The word "perpetually" sounds wrong here to me. Note that I'm AE, not BE. To me "perpetually" means "continously; non-stop". It cannot mean "repeatedly". But the meaning here is clearly "repeatedly". Each new story focuses on this. I might say "constantly" to indicate "repeatedly", but not "perpetually".
    Thanks. It did sound weird, I just couldn't quite put my finger on why it was wrong. Beacause I feel "perpetually" means "always/constantly" and both of these synonyms would just work fine for me in the given context.
    However, you say "perpetually" means "non-stop". I do agree but I think it does so as something happens "again and again/without fail" that it makes us feel it is happening non-stop. As in the example below.
    She's perpetually asking me for money.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I do agree but I think it does so as something happens "again and again/without fail"...as in...
    She's perpetually asking me for money.
    This is "repeatedly". As I said in post #25, I don't use "perpetually" with this meaning.

    Beacause I feel "perpetually" means "always/constantly"
    The words are not interchangeable in every use. "Constantly" and "always" can mean "every time" or "very often".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You can see the difference by checking each word at "thesaurus.com", which lists synonyms (words we use instead).

    There, the word "regularly" is on the synonym list for "constantly".
    But the word "regularly" is not on the synonym list for "perpetually".

    You can also see it in the WR dictionary. The unabridged list (second list) for "constant" includes the meaning "regularly recurrent"
    But that meaning is not listed for "perpetual".
     
    Last edited:

    roxanelag

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    You can see the difference by checking each word at "thesaurus.com", which lists synonyms (words we use instead).

    There, the word "regularly" is on the synonym list for "constantly".
    But the word "regularly" is not on the synonym list for "perpetually".

    You can also see it in the WR dictionary. The unabridged list (second list) for "constant" includes the meaning "regularly recurrent"
    But that meaning is not listed for "perpetual".
    Thanks dojibear. I've just read the whole thread and I got it. I don't know whether I would be able to use it correctly but I got it.
    The complexity of some concepts along with how my mind gains perspective with the passing of time make me feel old. But that's off topic here.

    Thanks a lot for helping me out and the time and interest you've shown.

    Best regards
     
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