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I've been wondering if I can use these interchangeably in German:

ständig
immer noch
immer wieder
immerwährend
immerfort
nach wie vor
unaufhörlich

They all translate to still, continually, etc. according to various dictionaries. I have noticed that when languages have so many synonyms, they are generally very nuanced, yet I haven't been able to establish that when browsing examples on the Internet.

For instance, can I use all of them in the following sentences?

Sie war nach wie vor in ihr Spiel vertieft.

Wir haben ständig Ärger mit ihm.

  • Aus 7 Phrasen lassen sich 7*6 = 42 Paare bilden, die man miteinander vergleichen kann. Das ist zu breit gefragt. – user unknown May 25 '18 at 23:57
  • Ich stimme nicht zu. Ich habe nicht gefragt, um alle Paare zu vergleichen, aber seine Bedeutung zu erleuchten. Der Ausgangpunkt war, dass sie anhand meiner Wörterbucher ganz gleichbedeutend waren. Mann kann z.B. Definitione bereitstellen. Ohnehin hat alex2006 mir die perfekte Antwort gegeben. – MrVocabulary May 26 '18 at 9:32
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Probably, it is best to explain the difference with your own example sentence using all of the terms above:

Sie war nach wie vor in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"nach wie vor" has the meaning of 'still': She was still absorbed in her game.

Sie war immer noch in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"immer noch" has the meaning of 'still': She was still absorbed in her game. Both terms can be used interchangeably, 'nach wie vor' is more formal, 'immer noch' the more frequent term in colloquial language.

Sie war immer wieder in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"immer wieder" literally has the meaning of 'again and again': She was again and again absorbed in her game.

Sie war ständig in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"ständig" has the meaning of 'constantly' oder 'frequently': She was constantly absorbed in her game.

Sie war immerfort in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"immerfort" has the meaning of 'constantly': She was constantly absorbed in her game. Although very close to being synonyms, 'immerfort' has a stronger meaning of not stopping and going on and on with the game.

Sie war immerwährend in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"immerwährend" literally has the meaning of 'permanently': She was permanently absorbed in her game. 'immerwährend' has an even stronger meaning of not stopping.

Sie war unaufhörlich in ihr Spiel vertieft.

"unaufhörlich" literally has the meaning of 'without quitting/stopping': She was absorbed in her game without ever stopping.

  • Thanks, that was very helpful. While I have compared numerous example over the Internet, they made much more sense with your explanation in mind :) – MrVocabulary May 22 '18 at 20:04
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    You are very welcome. – Alex2006 May 22 '18 at 20:09
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I'll tell you how you can make the comparison. Go to English Wiktionary (or German Wiktionary, if you can read already German), and look for each word you wrote. The etymology will appear, and so will examples.

Example: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/unaufhörlich will tell you the etymology un- aufhören + -lich, i.e. that does not cease.

You will see that although you can use them interchangeably in some cases, some adverbs are more accurate to describe a situation. You can only notice that after you get a flavor of each single word you are interested in.

  • I get that. I actually work with/on dictionaries professionally. But etymology is not always conveyed in how the modern meanings is perceived by the native speakers :) – MrVocabulary May 22 '18 at 19:51

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