Which sentence is correct and why?

The World Cup is held every four years.


The World Cup is being held every four years.

  • What would be your definition of "correct"?
    – Kris
    Nov 18 '13 at 6:12
  • I just know that "being" is used for continuity. Nov 18 '13 at 7:54

The first is correct since the World Cup competition is a very well-established and long-standing practice.

'US Presidential Elections are held every four years'

But you might say 'Committee meetings are now being held once a fortnight', let's say, instead of once a month or something. But once they get established you would probably revert to '...meetings are held once a fortnight'. The inclusion of 'being' suggests an unusual or provisional arrangement.


"The world cup is held every four years" is a statement of fact. "The world cup is being held every four years, however, implies that it is held every four years at the moment, but the speaker/writer would go on after a comma or semicolon to modify this by saying it would be held at a different interval in the future.

  • 5
    Or that it might have been different in the past. The Olympics were held every four years, but they have now been split up and are being held every two years.
    – Jim
    Nov 18 '13 at 6:48

The first sentence is the most common and the one that makes most sense.

Google produces "World Cup is held every four years" about 706,000 results. Note the use of inverted commas, the entire phrase/clause being searched is one item.

Conversely for "World Cup is being held every four years" produces only six results which includes the OP's post.

The present progressive/continuous tense is primarily used to expresses ongoing or incomplete actions and situations which are temporary. The same rules apply when we use the passive voice.

  • actions happening now and in progress = I'm holding a party at the moment.---> A party is being held.
  • actions which began in the past and are extended at the moment of speaking = I'm writing invitations and organising things for the party. ---> Invitations are being written etc.
  • actions planned in the future (usually near) = I'm holding a party tomorrow evening. ----> A party is being held tomorrow evening.
  • repetitive and irritating actions = I'm always holding last minute dinner parties for my husband. ---> Dinner parties at home are always being organised/held at the last minute.

The present progressive is not used to talk about permanent situations, or about regular happenings or habits. For these we use the present simple tense.

  • 1
    In the fourth bullet-pointed instance the actions surely do not have to be irritating do they? How about 'My husband is always buying me expensive presents'?
    – WS2
    Nov 18 '13 at 12:32
  • @WS2 lucky you! Mine never did, he was always making excuses and in the end I left him!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 18 '13 at 23:23
  • 1
    @MariLou Well I don't buy my wife expensive presents, but I must be doing something right as she has stayed for 42 years!
    – WS2
    Nov 19 '13 at 7:00
  • @WS2 Oh, how nice! I was mentioning the fact that mine never bought any presents, unless his mother and sisters reminded him. sigh
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 19 '13 at 7:15

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