Être en train de
[eh tra(n) treh(n) deu
to be ___-ing, to be in the process of
to be in (the) action of
French doesn't have a verb form equivalent to the present progressive
. Normally, you just use the simple present in French (je parle
) to express both the English simple present (I speak) and the present progressive (I am speaking). When you want to insist on the current, ongoing nature of an action in French, you can use the expression être en train de
Je suis en train de parler.
I am (in the process of) speaking (right now).
The French equivalent of the English past progressive (I was speaking) is the imperfect: je parlais
. But again, if you need to stress the fact that the action was continuing, you can use être en train de
J'étais en train d'écrire ma thèse quand le tremblement de terre a frappé.
I was (in the middle of) writing my thesis when the earthquake struck.
Related expression: être en cours de
has a similar meaning, but it's passive and is usually followed by a noun: La maison est en cours d'aménagement
- the house is being renovated.
while the French present participle -ant
can't be used to mean that one is doing something, it is equivalent to -ing in English when used as a noun or adjective.