“Annual” vs. “Yearly” vs. “Every Year” – Difference Revealed

We have a few options when we want to talk about things that happen once a year. “Annual,” “yearly,” and “every year” are all valid choices, and we need to understand where the differences come from. This article will talk you through all you need to know.

What Is The Difference Between Being “Annual,” “Yearly,” and “Every Year”?

There are no distinct differences between “annual,” “yearly,” or “every year.” Most of them are grammatical choices and differences that we choose based on our preferences in writing. They all mean that something happens “every year” and repeats each time.

annual vs yearly vs every year

To help you understand just how similar they are, we can refer to the following examples:

  • The festival is an annual event.
  • The festival occurs yearly.
  • The festival occurs every year.

All of the above examples mean the same thing. While we have had to change the grammar and word order using “annual,” all of the meanings are identical.

The only reason the word order needs to change is that “annual” is strictly an adjective. It can only be used to describe something, so we need a word like “event” to come after it.

However, “yearly” and “every year” are both adverbs, which do not need nouns after it because they already describe the previously stated one, “festival.”

What Does “Annual” Mean?

While there are no distinct meanings between the three phrases, we still need to know a few grammar nuances. Nothing about them will confuse a native speaker if you use them interchangeably, but there are a few key things you should pay attention to.

“Annual” means that something happens once every year. It only ever occurs one time, which is the biggest thing that sets the word apart. We usually write “annual” when something comes around once a year at the exact same time every year.

There are always exceptions to this rule, of course. For example, a circus might be annual where you live, but it may never arrive in your town on the same day every year. It still happens every year, but there is no guarantee of an exact date.

What Does “Yearly” Mean?

Unlike “annual,” “yearly” does not always have to mean one strict event.

“Yearly” means that something occurs every year. It does not mean that it only happens on one day or at one time, though it usually implies that it does.

We can use “yearly” as both an adverb and an adjective depending on the grammar choices in our sentence. For example:

  • Adverb: The event happens yearly.
  • Adjective: The yearly concert is always a blast.

It’s up to you how you choose to use it, as the meaning is the same for both cases.

What Does “Every Year”?

“Every year” is just an extension of “yearly.” We use the word “yearly” to mean “every year,” so it should stand to reason that “every year” is just another way to say it.

“Every year” is synonymous with “yearly.” We use both as adverbs to talk about something that occurs every year. Again, it does not have to happen on the same date or time frame, and it could occur multiple times during a year.

However, unlike “yearly,” “every year” is never an adjective. Because it is made of two words, we cannot use it to describe an event or occurrence. It only works as an adverb.

Examples Of How To Use “Annual” In A Sentence

Now let’s go over a few more examples of each word. We’ll start with the more specific of the three.

  1. The annual festival is only a few days away.
  2. I hate the fact that this occurs annually.
  3. The annual event is one of the best things to happen to this town.
  4. I’ve signed up for an annual service that gives me a lot of perks.
  5. I have an annual magazine that recounts everything that happened from the previous year.
  6. You need to go to the annual concert at least once in your life.
  7. Why can’t we go to the annual circus today?

“Annual” refers to something that happens every year, though it tends to fall on the same day or around the same time.

Examples Of How To Use “Yearly” In A Sentence

  1. The yearly festival is about to begin, and we need volunteers.
  2. I like to visit my grandparents at least once yearly, though I try to see them more than that.
  3. I can’t find a theme park that offers a yearly pass.
  4. The yearly visits are getting a bit annoying, and I wish I could find a way to stop them.
  5. You should come to the yearly event to see what all the fuss is about.
  6. I have to go over there yearly to get my passport sorted out.
  7. She comes around yearly to see how I’m doing after everything.

“Yearly” refers to something that occurs at least once a year, though there are no rules that specify it has to only occur once.

Examples Of How To Use “Every Year” In A Sentence

  1. Every year, I like to go and see farm animals.
  2. I watch the stars line up every year to form this beautiful line of sparkles.
  3. You should go every year because it’s well worth watching.
  4. I am not sure if I have the time to do that every year.
  5. Every year, someone has to complain about something and tighten the rules.
  6. Every year, they tell me I need to change.
  7. The Christmas party is the same every year.

“Every year” also works to talk about something that happens at least once “every year.” However, it can happen more if need be.

Is It “Annual” Or “Annually”?

“Annual” is the adjective form we can use to describe things. However, “annually” is the adverb form, which we can use in the same manner as “yearly” to talk about things that happen once a year.

  • The annual concert is in town.
  • This concert happens annually.

Should I Use “Every Year” Or “Each Year”?

“Every year” and “each year” are both correct. We use “every” to talk about something that occurs once a year. We can also use “each” to talk about individual happenings that occur yearly. They are both grammatically correct.

  • Each year, I visit my grandparents at their graves.
  • Every year, I visit my grandparents at their graves.