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zhèng zài
adv. in the process of, in the course of
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The adverbs 正, 在 or 正在 can be used prior to the predicate verb and the particle 呢 at the end of a sentence to indicate that the action is in progress. The action may take place either in the present, the past or the futureEither the adverb or the particle can be omitted, which leads us to these two basic patterns:

Pattern 1. Subject 正/在/正在 Verb (Object) (呢)。
E.g. 1a 昨天你打来电话的时候,我正忙着做饭呢。 [phr] Yesterday when you called, I was busy cooking.
E.g. 1b. 他们正忙活着整理行装。 [phr] They are busy packing up clothes for traveling.
E.g. 1c. 他在睡觉。 [phr] He is sleeping.
E.g. 1d. 孩子们正在街道上踢足球。 [phr] Children are playing football in the street.

Pattern 2. Subject (正/在/正在) Verb (Object) 呢。
E.g. 2a. 昨天你打来电话的时候,我忙着做饭呢。
E.g. 2b. 他们忙活着整理行装呢。
E.g. 2c. 他睡觉呢。
E.g. 2d. 孩子们在街道上踢足球呢。

The negative forms of the two patterns above are formed by adding 没 before the predicate verb.
Negative form: Subject 没 (在) Verb (Object) 。
E.g. 3a. 昨天你打来电话的时候,我没(在)忙着做饭。
E.g. 3b. 他们没(在)忙活着整理行装。
E.g. 3c. 他没(在)睡觉。
E.g. 3d. 孩子们没在街道上踢足球。
lisaC
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What is the difference in usage between正在and现在❓
Salamoza
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1. 正在 (adverb): in the process, in the course of.
"正在" is an adverb expressing time. It is added prior to the predicate verb emphasizing being in the state of progression. The action may take place either in the present, the past or the future. The modal particle "呢" may appear (or not) at the end of the sentence.
Example 1a. 昨天早上八点,我们正在吃早饭。 Yesterday morning at 8 o'clock, we were having breakfast.
Example 1b. 孩子们正在踢足球。 [phr] Children are playing football.
正在 can be replaced by 在 in the examples above, and the meaning does not change. 呢 can be added at the end of the examples. It is correct to say "昨天早上八点,我们在吃早饭/我们在吃早饭呢/我们正在吃早饭呢。", "孩子们在踢足球/孩子们在踢足球呢/孩子们正在踢足球呢。" 现在 cannot replace 正在(or 在) in these sentences, but we can add 现在 to 1b to specify that the action happens in "the present moment":
Example 1c. 孩子们现在正在踢足球。

2. 现在 (noun): the time being, the moment, the present time
Example 2a. 现在的要求越来越严格。The requirements of the present time are becoming progressively strict.
Example 2b. 现在比过去好多了。Now it's much better than before.
Example 2c. 他们现在吃午饭还是一会儿再吃? Are they going to have lunch now or later?
正在 cannot replace 现在 in the sentences above. 现在 is a noun and it can be used as an attributive to modify another noun (in 2a), or be used independently as the subject or object of a sentence (in 2b). As an adverb, 正在 cannot be used in these two ways.
lisaC
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Thank you so much, it all makes sense now. Thumbs up
Salamoza
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