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.

In French, you use Présent indicatif 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). 

Attention:

There is no equivalent of the Present Continuous tense in French, so for example, you can never translate I am working with Je suis travaillant. You 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 Forum 2 questions, 4 answers

ClaudiaA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Salut a tous

Je vais au restaurant plus tard. Why is it not accepted as a sentence stating a future activity in the test?
Asked 6 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

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.

JimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

"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"

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Je vais is present tense alright. But the present tense is frequently used to express aspects of the near future in French. 

Salut a tous

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

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MartinC1Kwiziq community member

Using the present in French to express the future.

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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Using the present in French to express the future.

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