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Manuel

Uses of Present Tense in French

Uses of Present Tense in French

The present tense is used in five instances

1.an action that is going on

  • J’apprends le français à FRENCH ETC.
  • I am learning French at FRENCH ETC.

2.a general statement

  • On apprend bien le français à FRENCH ETC.
  • One learns French well at FRENCH ETC.

3.a habitual or lasting action

  • Je vais en cours à FRENCH ETC.
  • I go to school at FRENCH ETC.

4.with time expressions

  • J’attends le bus depuis 15h30.
  • I have been waiting for the bus since 3:30 p.m.
  • Je fais du français avec FRENCH ETC. depuis une année.
  • I’ve been studying French with FRENCH ETC. for a year.
  • Il y a six mois que je fais du français avec FRENCH ETC.
  • I’ve been studying French with FRENCH ETC. for six months.
  • Ça fait six mois que je fais du français avec FRENCH ETC.
  • I’ve been studying French with FRENCH ETC. for six months.

5.when expressing an immediate action

  • Je vais apprendre le français à FRENCH ETC. la semaine prochaine.
  • I’m going to learn French at FRENCH ETC. next week.

In English, the present tense has two forms

  1. the simple present: I learn
  2. the progressive present: I am learning. It's an ongoing action.

French doesn’t work that way: am –ing, is –ing are –ing. Instead, when insisting about the on-going aspect of the action, French uses être en train de.

  • Je ne peux pas laver la vaisselle car je suis en train de faire mes devoirs.
  • I can’t wash the dishes because I am doing my homework (right now).

Related: More on the present tense in French . Expressing time in French (since, ago...) . French tenses .

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