Using Le Présent for ongoing actions where English uses Present Continuous

Look at these sentences:

Je mange un gâteau délicieux.
I'm eating a delicious cake.

C'est toujours quand je prends une douche que le téléphone sonne!
It's always when I'm having a shower that the phone rings.

Notice that in French you use Le Présent to describe actions that are ongoing in the present, whereas in English we would use the Present Continuous tense for these actions (as opposed to the Present Tense). 

 

Note: There is no equivalent of the Present Continuous tense in French, so you cannot, for example, translate 'I am working'  as "Je suis travaillant". Use "je travaille"

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Marie travaille à Paris maintenant
Marie is working in Paris now.


Je lis un livre
I read a book / I am reading a book


C'est toujours quand je prends une douche que le téléphone sonne!
It's always when I'm having a shower that the phone rings.


Je mange un gâteau délicieux.
I'm eating a delicious cake.



Q&A

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2019

2 replies

Salut a tous

Je vais au restaurant plus tard. Why is it not accepted as a sentence stating a future activity in the test?

Jim

Kwiziq community member

7 May 2019

7/05/19

"Je vais"     is present tense, not any aspect of future.

If you want to express a future action you would need to write "Je vais aller......"

"I am going to go"  -----  near future    or  "Je irai ...."   "I wiil (shall) go...."  future.

The text in your query  simply states "I go to the restaurant later" "je vais au restaurant plus tard"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

13 May 2019

13/05/19

In French there really are three ways to express varying degrees of "futureness", not unlike English:

(1) Je vais au restaurant plus tard. -- I'm going to the restaurant later. (a bit colloquial)(2) Je vais aller au restaurant plus tard. -- I'm going to go to the restaurant later. (3) J'irai au restaurant plus tard. -- I will go to the restaurant later.

To express the least temporal distance into the future you simply use present tense. In English one often uses present continuous. A bit farther into the future, you often employ the future proche, very much like the English "going to". And finally, the future simple for events with the largest separation from the present.

Martin

Kwiziq community member

27 February 2018

1 reply

Using the present in French to express the future.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

28 February 2018

28/02/18

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