French Grammar: The Present Continuous – ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + Infinitive

FrenchGrammarPresentContinuousTrainDe

French Grammar: The Present Continuous – ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + Infinitive
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Identify:

French Grammar: The Present Continuous – ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + INFINITIVE
la grammaire française: le présent continu – ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + l’infinitif

In English, we use the Present Progressive tense to talk about actions that are occurring at this moment in time.  The marker for this in English is a form of the verb “to be” + a verb ending in -ing. For example: I am talking, She is eating, They were studying, etc.

French doesn’t have a Present Progressive tense.  Instead, French usually uses the simple Present Tense (e.g., je mange) to convey both the simple Present Tense in English (“I eat”/ “I do eat”) and the Present Progressive (“I am eating”). However, in order to emphasize that something is in the process of happening in French, we can use the construction ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + Infinitive.

Study:

In English, we use the Present Progressive tense to talk about actions that are occurring at this moment in time.  The marker for this in English is a form of the verb “to be” + a verb ending in -ing. For example: I am talking, She is eating, They were studying, etc.

French doesn’t have a Present Progressive tense.  Instead, French usually uses the simple Present Tense (e.g., je mange) to convey both the simple Present Tense in English (“I eat”/ “I do eat”) and the Present Progressive (“I am eating”). However, in order to stress that something is in the process of happening in French, we can use the construction ÊTRE EN TRAIN DE + Infinitive.

To emphasize actions that are in the process of happening even as you speak, use the simple Present Tense form of ÊTRE + en train de + the Infinitive form of the verb (i.e., action) that is going on:

Je suis en train d’étudier.
I am (in the process of / in the middle of) studying (right now).

Il est en train de parler.
He is (in the process of / in the middle of) speaking (right now).

To emphasize an action that was in the process of happening, use the Imperfect Tense form of ÊTRE + en train de + the Infinitive form of the verb (i.e., action) that was going on:

Ils étaient en train daller à la bibliothèque.
They (masculine) were (in the process of / in the middle of) going to the library (right then).

Nous étions en train de traverser la rue.
We were (in the process of / in the middle of) crossing the street (right then).

To emphasize an action that will be in the process of taking place in the near future, use the simple Future Tense form of ÊTRE + en train de + the Infinitive form of the verb (i.e., the action) that will be going on:

Vous serez en train de dormir au moment où j’arriverai?
Will you all be (in the process of / in the middle of) sleeping at the time I arrive?

Tu seras en train de préparer le repas quand il descendra du train.
You will be (in the process of / in the middle of) preparing the meal when he gets off the train.

Adapt:

 Qu’est-ce que tu est en train de faire?
What are you (in the process of / in the middle of) doing (right now)?

Je suis en train de faire la lessive.
I am (in the process of / in the middle of) doing the laundry (right now).

Qu’est-ce que vous étiez en train de faire quand on a bombardé le World Trade Center?
What were you all (in the process of / in the middle of) doing (right) when they bombed the World Trade Center?

Nous étions en train de marcher à l’école.
We were (in the middle of / in the process of) walking to school.

Qu’est-ce qu’elle sera en train de faire pour la Saint-Sylvestre?
What will she be (in the process of / in the middle of) doing on New Year’s Eve?

Elle sera en train d’organiser une soirée chez elle.
She will be (in the process of / in the middle of) hosting a party at her home.

Tools:

Explore: