German Future Tense

Instructor: Penelope Heinigk

Penelope holds a doctorate degree in German and a professional teaching license in the state of Colorado. She has taught middle school through university, online and live.

In this lesson we will learn how to formulate and properly use the future tense in German using both the present tense and the verb ''werden'' ('to become').

Das Futur (The Future)

In German, the future tense occurs far less frequently than it does in English because German often substitutes the present tense for the future, especially when the specific time indicator is given.

However, German does follow an easy-to-learn and predictable pattern in the future tense. Once you learn the pattern, you know how all German verbs are conjugated in the future. Even irregular verbs are no exception.

Uses of the Present Tense

Before we get into our time machines and venture into the future, let's review the meanings of the present tense. Verbs used in the present tense can be translated three different ways into English. Consider these examples:

Present Tense Example Meanings in English
Ich gehe ins Kino. I go to the movies.
I do go to the movies.
I am going to the movies.
Er arbeitet. He works.
He does work.
He is working.
Wir spielen Karten. We play cards.
We do play cards.
We are playing cards.
Sie essen Pizza. They eat pizza.
The do eat pizza.
They are eating pizza.

You can use the present tense to express something that is going to happen in the future, as long as the context refers to future time:

  • Nächtest Jahr fliege ich nach Berlin. (Next year I'm going to fly to Berlin.)

Future Tense

You can also use the future tense to express the same idea:

  • Nächtest Jahr werde ich nach Berlin fliegen. (Literally: Next year I will to Berlin fly.)

However, the future tense is normally used when there is not a specific time mentioned, in order to avoid ambiguity when it is not clear that the action will take place in the future.

  • Ich werde keine Antwort bekommen. (I won't get an answer.) Note: The present tense might indicate that I'm not getting an answer now, in the present.

The future tense is formed using the conjugated form of the verb werden (VAIR-den 'to become'). It's in regular verb position with the infinitive form of the other verb at the end of the sentence.

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
ich werde VAIR-duh I become
du wirst vearst you become
er, sie, es wird veart he, she, it becomes
wir werden VAIR-din we become
ihr werdet VAIR-det you (informal, plural) become
sie werden VAIR-din they become
Sie werden VAIR-din you (formal, plural) become

Translation = She is becoming a veternarian.
female vet

Werden in the Present Tense:

Of course, this verb can be use in the present tense as follows:

  • Sie wird Tierärztin. (She is becoming a veterinarian.)
  • Die Kinder werden groß. (The children are getting/becoming big.)
  • Er wird hungrig. (He is getting/becoming hungry.)

Werden in the Future Tense:

Translation = Into the Future
time machine

Now, when we want to use the future tense, we use the conjugations of werden but now the infinitive form of the other verb comes at the end of the sentence:

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