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Laura K. Lawless

French expression: Être en train de

By January 7, 2013

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As soon as you click this link, you'll be in the process of learning how to use the French expression être en train de.
More: French expressions


April 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm
(1) Robert Cummings says:

When I see the french word “train”, I think of people being on a train while doing something! Etre en TRAIN de: to be in the TRAIN of doing something! Funny, n’est-ce pas?

April 17, 2009 at 3:29 pm
(2) George Tasker says:

The phrase “Je suis en train…” was in a very useful sentence which my grandson taught me as a warning to native French speakers that my French was not too good but that I was trying! I’ve never seen it written down so please correct my spelling ” Je parle juste un peu de français mais je suis en train d’apprendre”. I have found this a most useful opener when talking to a stranger and it always gets a friendly response.

April 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm
(3) David Joanisse says:

Is “etre en cours de” the same as “etre en train de”? The reason why I ask is because, when I withdraw money from my “compte de solde” or my “compte d’empargne” at an ATM, the machine will say: “Veuillez patienter. Vous etes en cours de recevoir vos especes.”

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Être en cours de is somewhat similar in meaning, but it’s passive and is usually followed by a noun: La maison est en cours d’aménagement.

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

April 19, 2009 at 2:31 am
(4) Dada says:

C’est interresant. Le mot train existait avant meme que le train n’existe.

January 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm
(5) Kody says:

I am eternally grateful to you for this! I have been trying to find out how to say _-ing for SO LONG! For quite a while I thought it was the stem of the very + -ant, which is what one of the learning french books, i believe idiot’s guide but I’d have to check before making any real accusations, said to do. Also, the way you explained it was that you use it if you want to stress that your -ing it, i’m not sure exactly how you worded it but do you mean that its less common than the english -ing, and used only in things like “clean your room please.” “IM CLEANING IT!!!” or is it just or nearly as common? ^-^ Thank you so much! I’m never gonna forget this phrase <3!

. . . . . . . . . .

Yes, it’s far less common than the English -ing. For example, if I want to ask, “What are you doing on Saturday?” I’d just say Que fais-tu samedi ? And to answer, Je vais au cinéma avec ma nièce – “I’m going to the movies with my niece.

So you only use être en train de when you really want to spell out that the thing is in the process of happening, as in your example: Je suis en train de la nettoyer !

The book you mentioned isn’t completely wrong; while -ant can’t be used to mean that one is doing something, it is equivalent to -ing when it’s used as a noun or adjective: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/presentparticiple.htm

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

January 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm
(6) Serge says:

Dada – maybe the train was invented in England, but the word “train” was invented in France much before! :)

January 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm
(7) Dada says:

Oui Serge, très amusant. Les Français inventent le mot, comme Dieux, les Anglais la chose, c’est à dire le train et un autre peuple européen plus inventive encore, le train sans vagons. Mais la plus éblouissante des idées c’est de faire passer le train sous un corps d’eau qui est la Manche.

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