FR: present progressive - être en train de + infinitif

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by erin616, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. erin616 New Member

    How do you say that you are in the process of doing something?
    can you use "etre en train de...."
    For ex.
    I am swimming not I swim
    I am running not I run
    I am eating not I eat

    Merci Beaucoup:)
  2. NYCPrincesse Senior Member

    New York
    English, USA
    I think that the present tense usually implies (in the process of). For example, "Je nage" can be taken to mean "I am swimming" and not just, "I swim". If you want to convey a real sense of immediacy you can say, "J'etait en train de nager quand tu m'as appele."
  3. frenchaudrey Senior Member

    French, France
    I agree with what as been said.
    You can say "être en train de" if you really want to insist on the fact that you're in the middle of the process or if you are interrupted (let's say) in the middle of it.
    For example if you're eating and someone calls you and asks "Do you want to go to the restaurant ?" you would answer "non merci, je suis en train de manger".

    Hope this helps :)
  4. eddiemel7778 Senior Member

    São Paulo
    Hi there! How are you all? I have a question. Is "En train de" the same as Present simple continuous? For instance.

    I am reading my English book now.
    Je suis en train de lire mon livre d'anglais maintenant.

    Do you call this structure in French "Le présent continu" ou "forme gerondive" ?

  5. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    No, because unlike in English, it is not a tense.
    It is just a phrase (not required) to emphasize the fact that you are doing it now.
    If you omit the adverb "maintenant", you can answer the question like : "Je suis en train de lire mon livre" or just (as you like) "Je lis mon livre".
    In English, it is not a case where you can freely choose between the simple present and the continuous present.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2012
  6. ejg7191 New Member

    Detroit, MI USA
    English - U.S.
    I thought être en train meant to be busy doing something

    Par exemple, je suis en train de laver ma voiture...I am busy washing my car (right now, obviously)
  7. jprr

    jprr Mod este

    Strasbourg - FRANCE
    french - France
    je suis en train de laver ma voiture = I am washing my car (right now, obviously, and certainly somewhat busy doing that )

    Ce n'est pas réservé au présent:
    J'étais en train de laver ma voiture = I was washing my car

    Le sens est bien celui de la forme progressive qui n'existe pas en français.
    Du fait même du sens de continuité, on ne peut pas l'utiliser avec des temps qui impliquent un sens contraire (passé simple en particulier): je fus en train de laver ma voiture:cross:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2012
  8. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    Good explanation. And like the English phrase "To be busy doing something", it is not a tense.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2012
  9. ka_ Junior Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)

    what's the main difference between these sentences?

    J'apprends le français
    Je suis en train de apprendre le français (I've noticed that this one is more common,but some people say that the first one is prefered,why?)

    When should I use each one?
  10. guillaumedemanzac Senior Member

    English - Southern England Home Counties
    d'apprendre with an apostrophe - I think it depends who is talking and how/why they are learning.
    A student could say factually: I'm learning French = it's on the syllabus and that's what I am doing this year.
    An adult would be more likely to say "I've got a new job and so I've just started learning French" - because I'm going to need it.
    Je suis en train de is difficult to translate but it implies that I have just started a language course and I am in the act of learning French. (Don't use that phrase in English as it is correct but sounds most unnatural!)
  11. selane Junior Member

    "Je suis entrain de" correspond à la forme "ing" anglaise, donc, "je suis entrain d'apprendre" c'est ce que je suis entrain de faire maintenant, "I am learning"
    alors que "j'apprends", ne marque pas le présent, on est pas forcément entrain de le faire maintenant. c'est une actualité.
  12. cigogne Senior Member


    Is there any difference between
    "Je regarde la télé." and "Je suis en train de regarder la télé."
    "J'écoute la musique." and "Je suis en train d'écouter la musique."

    Thank you?
  13. All in One Senior Member

    The simple present can mean I do (as a habit) as well as I am doing (right now).
    The construction with en train de can only mean the latter - I am doing, I'm in the middle / process of doing, etc.

    Je regarde la télé tous les soirs. :tick:
    Je regarde la télé en ce moment = Je suis en train de regarder la télé. :tick:
    Je suis en train de regarder la télé tous les soirs. :cross:
  14. cigogne Senior Member

    Thank you! Is this the only difference? Which one is more commonly used, in case they have the same meaning?
  15. All in One Senior Member

    When you're describing what you're doing at the moment, I'd say both are used but the simple present is more common since it's, well, more simple ;) This being said, you don't need an adverb of time with en train de.
  16. Xutonio New Member

    Italiano - Italia
    Hi all, some time passed but I will try to ask anyways...there's something I don't quite get.
    To my experience the be + -ing form can describe something going on now or in this undefined on-going period of time. Like "I am learning (or studying) English", not just because I just interrupted the activity, but because it's an on-going process of this period. Correct?

    How is it like in French then? Can the sentence "Je suis en train d'apprendre Francais" be similarly used to describe the period (like this unfinished period of few months)?

  17. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Yes, you can also use it in French:

    Je suis en train d'apprendre le français. :tick:
  18. guillaumedemanzac Senior Member

    English - Southern England Home Counties
    But French has a different present tense J'apprends le français - which means I am learning French. You can't in English say "I learn French" without adding something e.g "I learn French because I have to do a language at school". or "I learn French because it is the most useful foreign language to learn."
    "I am learning French" is the continuous because it means you started some time ago and are still doing it now and plan to continue for some time (undefined).
    "Je suis en train de" always means at this actual moment so you can't equate it with "I am learning French" - it means something like: "I'm just about to learn" or "I'm just starting to learn" e.g. "I am studying / learning French in this lesson so I can't answer the phone" or maybe "I'm learning French and have no time to learn Spanish and it would be difficult as I would mix up the two languages."
    As I said "I'm in the actual act of learning French" is accurate but sounds very Franglais. Context is all important here for the very fine distinctions between these three present tense forms.
    "I'm learning French this year because I have to go to Paris for a company project in co-operation with Aerospatial."
    "Students learn French in their third and fourth years with the option of switching to or adding Spanish in the fifth year."
    "I'm just about to learn all my French irregular verbs for a test this week."
  19. Xutonio New Member

    Italiano - Italia
    The distinction is quite clear to me in English.
    But then, when it comes to French, would you have any other form of expressing "Je suis en train d'apprendre le français cet an" [This year I'm learning French] in the uninterrupted shade of it?
    Would you prefer to use "J'apprend le français cet an" or some other expressions?
  20. guillaumedemanzac Senior Member

    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Don't check with me. I'm English.
    I would say in that example "Je vais apprendre le français cette année" = future plan = all year long.
    Past "j'ai appris le français l'an dernier." = finished. "Cette année, je vais apprendre l'espagnol." future.

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