在 Expressing an Action in Progress

Previously, we introduced 在 indicating place and location. In this lesson, we will learn another function of 在: expressing an action in progress. In Chinese, in order to indicate the fact that an action is going on at the moment of speaking, we use 在 (zài), meaning “be doing”. 在 is prefixed to the verb. The sentence follows the pattern: Subject + 在 + Verb Phrase

S Verb Phrase
zài dǎzì.
打字。

I'm typing.

zài péi nǚpéngyǒu.
陪 女朋友。

He is keeping company with (his) girlfriend.

zài zuò shénme?
做 什么?

What are you doing?

“正 (zhèng)” may be added for extra emphasis. “正” is often used before “在”.

S 正在 N
yīng’er zhèngzài kū.
婴儿 正在 哭。

The baby is crying.

yuèduì zhèngzài yǎnzòu.
乐队 正在 演奏。

The band is performing.

dàjiā zhèngzài tǎolùn fāngàn.
大家 正在 讨论 方案。

People are discussing the program plan.

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