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Aspect progressif

French Progressive Aspect

The progressive (or continuous) aspect indicates that an action, event or state was, is or will be ongoing in the past, present or future. 

In English, the progressive tenses, formed by the auxiliary verb "to be" + present participle (verb -ing), indicate the progressive aspect. For example:

  • I am working (present progressive)
  • I was working (past progressive)
  • I will be working (future progressive)

French does not have progressive tenses: je travaille means both "I work" (simple present) and "I am working" (present progressive). Therefore, French indicates the progressive aspect with other words, constructions or simply context.

For example

Je travaille en ce momentI am working [at the moment].
J'étais en train de travailler. I was in the process of working/I was working.
Peux-tu le vérifier pendant que je parle ? Can you check it out while I'm talking?

Introduction to aspect