Languages › French How to Use the French Expression 'Être en Train de' Share Flipboard Email Print David Madison / Getty Images French Vocabulary Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar Resources For Teachers 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 fairequelque 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 somethingto be undergoing changeto be in the middle of doing something Additional Resources Expressions with êtreExpressions with enExpressions with deMost common French phrases How and When to Use the French Present Participle Avoir: Conjugation of This Major Irregular French Verb How to Conjugate the Important French Verb Faire How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb Mettre How to Conjugate the French Verb Finir All about Être, a French Super Verb How to Conjugate Être How Do You Use the French Verb "Vivre" (to Live)? Learn Simple Conjugations for the French Verb Tenir How Do I Conjugate the French Imperfect Tense? Learn How "Grossir" Is Conjugated in French Introduction to the French Present Tense Conjugating the Regular French Verb 'Aimer' ('to Like, Love') How to Use the French Expression Avoir la Frite How to Conjugate the Irregular French Verb Dormir ('to Sleep') How Do You Conjugate the French Irregular Verb 'Lire' (to Read)?