我在溜狗 (I'm walking the dog)

Last night René sent the following text message to his friend:

你在哪里?
Nǐ zai nǎlǐ?
Where are you?

She replied several minutes later:

我在溜狗
Wǒ zài liū gǒu.
I am walking the dog.

René had learned to use 在 and 正在 to indicate ongoing action in the present moment.

Here are some other examples:

他在洗澡不能接电话.
Wǒ zài xǐzǎo, bùnéng jiē diànhuà.
I'm having a shower (right now) and can’t get to the phone.

她的老板在开会
Tāde lǎobǎn zài kāihuì.
Her boss is in a meeting.

我在做饭呢
Wǒ zài zuòfàn ne.

I’m cooking (depending on the time of day, this could mean breakfast, lunch or dinner).

毛毛雨在下
Máomáoyǔ zài xià.
It’s drizzling.

我命苦,我在公司加班
Wǒ mìngkǔ. Wo zài gōngsī jiābān.
My life is hard. I’m working overtime at the company.

In the course of the day, René often received the following text messages:

你在干嘛?
Nǐ zài gànma?
What are you doing?

你在忙什么?
What are you doing? (lit: ‘what are you busy with?’)

René received the following text message the other day which he discovered was the same as 你在忙什么?

你在忙何?
Nǐ zai mánghé?

何 here means ‘what,’ and is more common in formal literary texts than colloquial standard Chinese.

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