Humanities › Languages How to Use the French Expression 'Être en Train de' Share Flipboard Email Print David Madison / Getty Images Languages French Vocabulary Basics Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar Resources for Teachers English as a Second Language Spanish German Italian Japanese Mandarin Russian English Grammar View More by ThoughtCo Updated February 06, 2019 The French expression être en train de (pronounced eh tra(n) treh(n) deu) means "to be in the process of" or "to be doing." This little phrase when combined with an infinitive is the equivalent of the English present progressive, which French lacks. Like Present Progressive Normally, one would 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 ongoing, continuous nature of a current action in French, use the expression être en train de with an infinitive denoting the action. For example: 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 if you need to stress the fact that the action was continuing, use être en train de. For example: 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. Synonyms The expression être en cours de has a similar meaning, but it is passive and 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. Expressions and Use Il est en train de manger. > He's eating. se voir en train de faire quelque chose > to picture someone doing something surprendre quelqu'un en train de faire quelque chose > to catch someone doing something se voir en train de faire quelque chose > to see someone doing something Il est en train de la draguer. > He's trying to pick her up. L'eau est en train de chauffer. > The kettle's on. / The water's heating. en train de faire quelque chose >être en train de changer >être en train de faire quelquechose > in the act of doing something to be undergoing changeto be in the middle of doing something Additional Resources Expressions with êtreExpressions with enExpressions with deMost common French phrases Continue Reading How to Use the French Expression N'Importe Quoi How to Use the French Expression 'Quand Même' French Expressions with Être How to Use the French Expression "Ce N'est Pas Grave" How and When to Use the French Present Participle How to Use the French Expression "J'en Ai Ras le Bol" How to Use the French Expression "Allons-y" Always Late? You Need to Learn This French Expression How Do You Use the Preposition 'à' Correctly in French? How to Use the French Expression "Pas de Problème" How to Use the French Expression 'Tant Pis' What Does the French Expression "Voilà" Really Mean? How to Use the French Expression 'C'est la Vie' ('That's Life') The French Expression 'Au lieu de' How to Use the French Expression Avoir la Frite How Do You Use the French Expression "N'est-ce Pas"?