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4 Ways To Say ING In French

4 Ways To Say ING In French

In today’s lesson we will answer the question: “How do you say ING in French?”. There are actaully many ways to do this. I tried to keep the grammatical explanations to a minimum and suggest to focus more on the example sentences.

4 Ways To Say ING In French

Example sentences

In French, the present tense (le présent) equates to both simple present tense (e.g., I learn) and present continuous tense (e.g., I am learning). Hence, for this first sentence, j’apprends translates to “I am learning”. You cannot use être (to be) and say “je suis apprends” to mean “I’m learning”. That is a common mistake made by many beginners.

J’apprends le français en France.

I’m learning French in France.

This same concept applies to the the second example sentence. “Qu’est-ce que tu fais” translates to both “What do you do?” and “What are you doing?”.

Qu’est-ce que tu fais demain.

What are you doing tomorrow?

Another commonly used form used to express an action which is occuring is: Present tense of être (to be) + en train de + infinitive. This form is used to express “in the middle of” or “happening now”. We cover en train de in detail in this lesson.

Je suis en train de manger la pizza.

I am eating the pizza.

You can also use the gerund to express ING. The gerund is formed by taking the nous form of the verb in the present tense, omitting the -ons and replacing it with -ant, then preceding it by the preposition en. Hence, en apprenant means “while learning”. This lesson on our site covers the gerund.

En apprenant la liste de verbes, j’ai compris que le français est très compliqué.

While learning the list of verbs, I understood that French is very complicated.

Another way to express ING is to use the imperfect tense to mean “was verb + ING”. Hence, je travaillais in this example means “I was working”. This page on our site covers the imperfect tense (l’imparfait) in detail.

Je n’y suis pas allé hier parce que je travaillais.

I didn’t go yesterday because I was working.


Et voilà ! Now you know how to express ING in French! Following this lesson, you might also want to check our our lesson covering the six French verb tenses you’ll need for speaking French fluently.

Example of a French ING sentence.
Ils mangent la pizza. They are eating the pizza.

See all French grammar lessons

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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