Can you please explain the difference between this two sentences:

The Earth is being held by the gravity of the Sun and orbits around it.

The Earth is held by the gravity of the Sun and orbits around it.

  • 1
    Passive voice tenses hold the same way in which these are used. Present passive: permanent situations and facts. Present continuous passive: temporary situations.
    – Schwale
    Aug 8, 2016 at 20:17
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    @Ustanak: If you have an answer, don't put it in comments. Aug 8, 2016 at 20:22
  • For this and future reference, if you can include your thoughts about the question or problem, it might be helpful to respondents. - From Review
    – Em.
    Aug 8, 2016 at 20:41

2 Answers 2


These two sentences are both in the passive voice, indicated by the passive(past) participle held. Both are passive voice, so this has no effect on our choice of sentence.

The first is being held is present continuous and the second is held is present simple. Here is a tutorial that explains the differences in usage for these two forms.

Present continuous is used for a situation which is temporary, or happens regularly before and after a given time, or is happening before and after the moment of speaking.

Present simple is used for things that are regularly, continually or are generally true.

Astronomical things change over immensely long timescales, so we talk about them as if they were generally true. The correct sentence therefore uses present simple:

The Earth is held by the gravity of the Sun and orbits around it.


"The earth is being held" suggests that the sun is just holding the earth for the time being and plans to let go at some point. "The earth is held" describes the holding of the earth as a general fact that has no specific duration.

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