Recognizing the different tenses

LooA0Kwiziq community member

Recognizing the different tenses

Hello, I am a total beginner at French, and I hope someone can please guide me. I am having trouble recognising the different tenses when reading a sentence in French. In English we would say : "He READS a book" as an answer to a question like "what does he do whilst taking the tube?". 

If the question was "what is he doing?", In English we would say "He is READING/ a/ this/that". How do I tell whether the person is DOING something or DOES something in French? Example : 

"Elle lit un livre" She reads a book. 

"Elle lit un livre" she's reading a book. 

Initially, I thought you'd have to read the rest of the sentence to work it out, but I can't imagine this is how it works all the time. In English there is a distinctive difference : "I go to the .../I AM going to the..."

"He has a.../He HAD a..."

"I watch .../ I AM watching". 

Have I missed something in the lessons? 

Apologies for the long winded question and capitalisation. I like to believe I am fluent in English (it's the only language I know) however I find articulating in my own language difficult at the best of times !! 

Thanks 

Asked 2 years ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

In English you have present tense and present continuous tense: "I read" versus "I am reading". In French, there's no such distinction. Both are translated as Je lis.

LooA0Kwiziq community member

Ahh I see. So how to tell which tense from a glance of a sentence? Do you read the entire sentence to understand, or will I just know the more I practice. Thanks for answering my first question

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

It all depends on the context, really. That said, there are some constructions in French which stress the ongoing nature of the action, such as être en train de faire qqc.

Je suis en train de travailler. --I'm working /  I'm in the midst of working.

LooA0Kwiziq community member

Thanks soo much for answering my questions. Your examples have helped a lot. 

Recognizing the different tenses

Hello, I am a total beginner at French, and I hope someone can please guide me. I am having trouble recognising the different tenses when reading a sentence in French. In English we would say : "He READS a book" as an answer to a question like "what does he do whilst taking the tube?". 

If the question was "what is he doing?", In English we would say "He is READING/ a/ this/that". How do I tell whether the person is DOING something or DOES something in French? Example : 

"Elle lit un livre" She reads a book. 

"Elle lit un livre" she's reading a book. 

Initially, I thought you'd have to read the rest of the sentence to work it out, but I can't imagine this is how it works all the time. In English there is a distinctive difference : "I go to the .../I AM going to the..."

"He has a.../He HAD a..."

"I watch .../ I AM watching". 

Have I missed something in the lessons? 

Apologies for the long winded question and capitalisation. I like to believe I am fluent in English (it's the only language I know) however I find articulating in my own language difficult at the best of times !! 

Thanks 

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