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The Future Tense In German (Futur I)- On How To Use Werden

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Just like in English, there are two future tenses in the German language. In this post, we will focus on the first future tense. Surprisingly enough, this Futur I tense is the easiest tense in German. Why? Find out below.





Before we explain how the future tense in German is formed, we need to clarify when it is and is not used. For it might come as a surprise to many German learners that the future tense is not always used when future actions are being mentioned. On the contrary, just as for English native speakers, it is common for most German native speakers to use the present tense (the so-called 'futuristic present') when an activity or event is deemed as certain or has been planned to happen in the near future. Let's consider some examples.


Sie arbeitet morgen

(She will work tomorrow, or as most English native speakers would also say, she is working tomorrow)


Er hat am Wochenende frei

(He is off at the weekend)


Ich feiere nächste Woche meinen Geburtstag

(I'm celebrating my birthday next week)


However, there are two situations when German and English native speakers use tenses in a different way. First, with promises, Second, with regard to predictions. In both situations, in German the futuristic present is common, whereas in English the future tense is being used.


Ich gebe dir das Geld morgen zurück

(I'll pay you back tomorrow)


Es regnet morgen

(It'll rain tomorrow)


Unlike English, the German language does not distinguish between the will and the going to future. Instead, to communicate plans, German native speakers also use the futuristic present tense.


Ich koche heute Abend griechisches Essen.

(I'm going to cook Greek food tonight)


Ich schicke dir später eine E-Mail.

(I'm going to send you an email later)


So when do German native speakers actually use the future 1 tense then? They use if an action or event will happen in the distant future and if they are less certain of its occurrence..


Ich werde im Mai nach Mallorca fliegen.

(I'm going to fly to Mallorca in May)


Ihr werdet nächstes Jahr nach Deutschland umziehen.

(You're going to move to Germany next year)





So as you see from the above examples, werden as the conjugated verb is positioned second, whereas the main verb remains in its infinitive form at the end of the sentence. This is more straight forward than the conjugation of German verbs in the present tense where are there many other irregular verbs to learn.


Werden is an irregular verb, though. Its conjugation is as follows:


ich

werde

du

wirst

er, sie, es

wird

wir

werden

ihr

werdet

sie, Sie

werden


We said the future 1 tense is used when the occurrence of the activity or event is less certain. So in order to communicate the speaker's attitude to the likelihood of the occurrence, markers such as wohl (might), vielleicht (maybe), wahrscheinlich (probably) are being deployed to express varying degrees of certainty.


Sie wird vielleicht morgen arbeiten, aber sie wartet noch auf einen Anruf von ihrem Chef.

(Perhaps she'll work tomorrow, but she's waiting for her boss to call her)


Ich werde wohl im Mai nach Mallorca fliegen, aber wegen der Pandemie bin ich mir noch nicht sicher.

(I might be able to fly to Mallorca in May, but I'm not quite sure yet because of the pandemic)


Ich werde wahrscheinlich im Mai nach Mallorca fliegen, aber ich warte nur noch auf die Bestätigung, dass der Flug wirklich stattfinden kann.

(I may fly to Mallorca in May, I'm just waiting for the official confirmation that my flight will take place)


While all of this might seem pretty straightforward, there is one pitfall that needs to be avoided. Werden on its own (so when it doesn't act as the auxiliary verb for the future tense) means "to become". So if you forget to add a main verb at the end, the meaning of your sentence changes.


Ich werde alt

(I become/get old)


vs.


Ich werde alt werden

(I will become old)


Ich werde krank

(I get sick)


Ich werde krank werden

(I will get sick)


markers like "vielleicht", "wohl", "wahrscheinlich" to your sentence



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1 Comment


Guest
Feb 08

wow!

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