and welcome to the second part of our look at
Last time we were cut short quite abruptly right in the middle of the explanation, so if you haven’t rea… er I mean listened to it yet you can find part 1 here:
- werden part 1
What we’ve learned so far is that werden originally meant to turn before it .. ahem… turned into a word that expresses self development; just like to become. And itis not a weird change of meaning becauseit happened with the English to turn, too.
- Die Milch wird sauer.
- The milk turns sour.
- The leaves are turning yellow and red.
- Die Blätter werden gelb und rot.
Then, we started talking about the second usage of werden – a helper verb for thefuture tense.
And that’s where we’ll pick up today. And first we’ll explore how and why werden became the German counterpart of will.
Why “werden” and “will” express future
Latin had a grammatical future tense 2000 years ago, but the Germanic languages actually didn’t. They did not bother expressing future with a special tense at all. They just made a distinction between things that are past and all the rest. And German is still very Germanic about that, because in daily conversation, it uses present tense for future events about 80% of the time.
- Nächsten Sommerfahreich ans Meer.
- Next summer, Igoto the sea (lit.)
The Germanic tribes then started to have more and more contact with Latinand long after the Roman empire had fallen, Latin remained THE language for science and thechurch. Kind of ironic actually, since the two hated each other for quite a while.
But yeah, so the Germanic languagescame under the influence of Latin and at some point, they were like “Hey, I want my own future tense.”and so they came up with ways to express the future-ness of some action using grammar.
English ended up used the wordwill, which was originally doing nothing more thanstating an intention. This:
- Iwillhave another beer….
used to mean (and in German still means) this:
- Iwant tohave another beer….
- Ichwillnoch ein Bier.
Maybe English speaker were just incredibly optimistic about achieving whatever they wanted and sowillchanged from expressing intentions into expressing the future .
- Thomaswillbecome bald because his dad is too.
Today, the intention-part has almost disappeared…. just like Thomas’ dad’s hair. But if you really look closely you can find some left overs of the old intentional-will.
- Make of that whatever you will.
By the way… the shift of willfrom intention to helper is the reason why English, unlike German or French or Spanish, does NOT have a modal verb that expresses desire anymore. English uses to wantfor that but this is NOT a modal verb in English.
Yes, you may use that info to impress people at the next party. Work great.
Now, in German, they didn’t change their version ofwill(wollen). Instead they usedwerdento do the job of expressing future. And unlike the English will, werdendidn’t even have to give up its “normal” meaning. Both functions exist side by side.
And now the big question is: why? How? What has becoming,which is the “normal” meaning of werden to do with the future?
Well… it is not that big of a stretch because…becomingimplies that something isn’t YET but it’s on its way.
You’re not tired yet, but you’re in the process of becoming it, so in the near future youwill be. There you have it – being is the future of becoming,if that makes sense.
So it is completely understandable that people would start using such a verb to express future…. I mean … why not?
In English, they expressed it using intentions. In German, they expressed it using the process of self development. And to give you some other options – in Swedish, they are using“shall”and“comes at, arrive”,in Dutch they also use“shall”and“to go”.
All those do make sense and there is no better or cooler. It is evolved differently. Do the different ways tell us something about the way of thinking, about ways of looking at the future? I really don’t know… I’d actually say no. Maybe it does tell us something about the people who lived when these forms evolved… for us today it is mainly a grammatical concept that we have hard wired in our brains.
Anyway … here’s the core of what we’ve talked about in the best form – the example form :)
- Ichwerdenächste Woche viel arbeiten.
- Iturn/windworking a lot next week (using the original meaning of werden).
- Ibecomeworking a lot next week. (super literal)
- Iwillwork a lot next week. (actual meaning)
and here is the future-werden back to back with thebecoming-werden…
- Werwirddie Wahl gewinnen? Wer wird der nächste Kanzler?
- Whowillwin the elections? Who willbecomethe next chancellor?
Notice something? We’re talking about the exact same event :). In first sentence we’re using the future, in the second we don’t. That is to say, in German we don’t because German doesn’t use the future tense that much.
But the example leads us to an interesting question: how would we build the future ofwerdenitself?
future-werden in practice
How would we say this for instance…
- The students know very well that theywillbecometired when the professor talk about grammar.
Could it possibly be a doublewerden? Wouldn’t that be too strange even by German standards? Let’s take a look…
- Die Studenten wissen ganz genau, dass sie, wenn ihr Professor über Grammatik redet, müdewerdenwerden.
- The students know all too well, that they will get tired when their prof talks about grammar.
Ohhhhhh… and it isa doublewerden… and it is at the end. German, you language you, you did it again!
Seriously though, this sentence is a little contrived and it is definitely bad style. And since it wouldn’t make any noteworthy difference in meaning anyway, people would just leave out onewerden. Which one? The blue one of course. Keep that in mind for your next test… don’t leave out the green one ;).
Now… although this very example was weird the combination ofbecoming-werdenandfuture-werdenis actually acceptable. When there is no context, we even need the doublewerdento make clear that it is future.
- Iam gettingtired.
Does that sound weird or funny? Not so much actually… no more than this…
- Iwill want toremember that…
(at least to me, with my German “ich
will”-glasses on, that is a bit likeintending to intend)
- Next week,Iam going togoto Berlin.
All right. Now,I don’t want to discuss all the grammar of the German future tense here, or give you loads of examples because… you don’t really ever need to use it.In daily conversation, German reallymostly do it the old way and just use the present.
Maybe also because we have yet another opportunity to use our belovedwerden… the passive voice. But before we get to that I want to quickly mention one very common idiom, which is a good example for how close the becoming-werden and the future werden really are…
- Das wird schon.
- It‘ll be alright.
This is used to reassure people when they stress about something… for instance your classmate is worried that he or she might not pass the test… then you can say “Das wird schon”. It sounds really nice. It kind of has a built in “Don’t worry”… . Now, although I translated it using the English future tense, to me this is actually more the becoming werden... mainly because there is no other verb in there. But it doesn’t matter after all.
- I become…
- I will be…
Those are the same just with a different focus… become focuses on the process of “evolving”, will be focuses on the result. And with those 2 points of view, we can now dive right into the passive.
werden – the passive
The passive voice is a grammatical role reversal. Sounds abstract. Is abstract. In fact, passive is one of the last things kids learn in their native language BECAUSE it is so abstract. Imagine a 3 year old watching mom
open the box of the frozen piz… mix flour, yeast and olive oil for the pizza dough… what does the toddler see?
- Mama makes pizza.
- A pizza is being made by mama.
The second example is soooo much more complicated because the passive artificially switches grammatical roles while the real roles remain the same.What do I mean by grammatical roles? Well, for many activities, like reading, seeing, buying or opening we have to have at least 2 participants. First, we need someone who does it. In linguistics they call thatagentbutwe’ll call it thedo-er. On the other hand we’ve got to have something that is being read, seen or bought and we’ll cal thedone to-er.Do-er anddone to-er are roles in the real world. They have little to do with grammar.
Now, in a normal sentence thedo-er will have the grammatical role of a subject and thedone to-er will be in the role of thedirect object.
- Ireada book.
And the passive reverses the grammatical roles.
- The bookis being readby me.
The book is still thedone to-er but it is the grammaticalsubjectnow.
Okay… and… why should we do such a thing anyway? Why make things complicated?
Well, for this example it is not really useful, but passive is neat and handy whenever thedo-er is unknown or uninteresting or if the effect, the result matters…. I’ll just do one example…
- The diamonds were stolen last night…. sound more elegant than
- Someone stole the diamonds last night.
So… passive may be abstract but it’s good to have it. And all languages I know of do have a way to build it.English as well as all the Roman languages (I don’t know how it works for Slavic languages) use the helper verbto beto form the passive.
- Thomaspainteda picture.
- A picturewas paintedby Thomas.
- Thomashatein Bildgemalt.
- Ein Bildwurdevon Thomasgemalt.
There are 2 questions that we’ll talk about the first one being of course this:
Does that tie in with thewerdenwe already know?
Yes. It totally does. Let’s recall.Werdenhas at its core the idea of self development.Now, when a picture is painted it also kind of develops… just the cause is external. So it’s really not that far away. What? Oh it is?… Okay… let me try again then. We’ve seen thatwerdencan also be a translation forto getbecauseto getsometimes expresses development. But what about this:
- The presidentgotelected.
- The moviegotmade for the fans…. THAT’S why it blows… hahahaha.. sorry… … I … I couldn’t resist
Now, what’s up with thisgothere? Sure, we could say that it is kind of “a change of state” which would be the same got as in “I got tired”… but the reality is, that we can simply replace it bywas.Then, the sentences would be a pure passive but the meaning wouldn’t change a bit. So I hope you can see, that from “changing a state” and passive is actually the same when the reason for the change is external.
And if you’re still like… meh, I don’t get it… well, let’s remember thatwerdenused to meanto turn.
- The skyturnsdark.
Now… what is that? It is a change of state, that’s for sure. But we can also read future into this because it is obviously not dark yet. And we can even interpret this as a passive because the sky isn’t doing much. It is clouds that do the work. They cover the sky. Or let’s take this…although I don’t know if that is proper English:
- He watches the streetsturnwet.
This is a change of state from dry to wet. It is also future because the streets are not wet yet. And it is clearly also passive because the street itself doesn’t squeeze out water. The rain is thedo-er.
So… I hope you can see that it is not too far fetched to use verb that expresses thechange of stateas a helper for the passive AND the future at the same time. And that iswerden.
- Das Bildwirdgemalt.
- The picturebecomespainted.
This would be the literal translation… and it is not that wrong… the only thing is thatto becomedoesn’t really work with an external cause.
Now the second question that is interesting is this:
So… German does it differently than many other languages…
does that have any effect on the meaning?
And the answer is yes. Usingto beand usingwerdenleads to 2 major differences.
To understand the first one we need to make a short detour… it is really short, I promise. So… for most of the actions we can put a focus either on theon goingprocessorthe completed process/ theresult.
- Iwas doingthe dishes.
- Ihave donethe dishes.
Both sentences are set in the past but the first one focuses on my doing the dishes much more than the second one. The second one is all about the result. The dishes are done now.
Now,to beis a verb ofstate. It talks about how something IS.Werdenon the other hand talks about how something becomes – how it IS CHANGING. Soto bestressesthe result,werdenstressesongoing process.That also affects the passive, mainly in present tense.
- Die Pizzawirdgegessen.
This is all about the process and if we want to express that in English using the state-ishto be, we must somehow add this process idea and our sentence will seem a bit complicated.
- The pizzais beingeaten.
Or we could also say this, I guess…
- The pizzagetseaten.
You can try it with your own mother tongue. If passive is built usingto be, then you will have to use a work around to express the German version. Now… as soon as we leave present tense, the differences begin to blur but let’s keep this for when we actually learn passive. Just keep in mind that the Germanwerdenadds this idea ofongoing changeto the passive that is not there if you build it usingto be.
Cool… now, there is another difference between German and languages that useto befor their passivewhich is really fascinating.
The thing is…to beis a pretty busy verb because in most languages it is also used for the past in one way or another. So there is a lot of overlap and that restricts the use a bit. The Germanwerdendoesn’t have that problem.
And maybe that is the reason why in German you can do some funny stuff… and by funny, I mean stuff that will drive you INSANE if you build your passive usingto be. How about a passive ofwollen…
- Zuvielwurdegewollt, zu wenig gemacht.
- Too much was asked for, too little has been done. (lit.)
- Too much asked for, too little done.
Too easy, you say? Well how about a passive ofschlafenthen
- Im Bettwirdgeschlafen.
Yep…the passive voice ofto sleep. Try that in English. If you can do it, I you will get* one case of the best German beer (*for money in a store).
But there is more about this passive of schlafen. Can you tell me, where the subject is in the German sentence? No… well that’s because there is none. If you’ve learned that German always has a subject in the sentence… well… just forget it…
All right. I think we’re done for today and we’re done with was our German Word of the Daywerden. It started of asto turnbut soon changed into a word with the meaning of to become. English speakers had it too, but the didn’t like it that much. Germans loved it and started using it for the future and the passive. Seems random at first but hey… as we can see by looking at the wordto get, all those things are closely related and they all share the idea ofchange of state.
If you have any questions or suggestions aboutwerden, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.
4.5 28 votes
How do you use werden in a German sentence? ›
Using Werden To Talk About The Future
Example: Im July wird er Urlaub machen. (He will go on vacation in July.) Example: Wir wissen nicht ob sie kommen werden. (We don't know if they will come.)
The structure of a sentence in the future tense is as follows: subject + conjugated form of werden werden, Präsens + rest of sentence + infinitive verb. Anna wird nach Berlin kommen. Anna will come to Berlin.How do you use passive voice in German? ›
In German, the passive is formed using werden and the past participle, while the agent is introduced by von, for a person or organisation, or durch, for a thing. Das Kind wurde von einem Hund gebissen. The child was bitten by a dog. Die Tür wurde durch den Wind geöffnet.How do you conjugate passive voice in German? ›
In German, the passive voice is formed with the auxiliary verb "werden" and the past participle of the main verb, except in the perfect and pluperfect tense where the auxiliary verb is "sein" and the past participle of the main verb is followed by "worden".Where does werden go in a sentence? ›
In this case, the order of the two verbs shifts and werden goes after the full verb: Ich strenge mich an, so dass ich nächste Jahr auf die Uni gehen werde. I'm working hard to go to college next year. Sie ist so schüchtern, dass sie ihn nicht ansprechen wird.How do you use future tense in German? ›
- Select your personal pronoun , eg ich, du, wir etc.
- Use part of the verb werden as an auxiliary verb .
- Select the infinitive verb you want to use. This goes to the end of the clause or sentence.
The passive verb form in the simple future tense is made by putting will / shall + be before the past participle form of the verb.What is the conjugation of werden? ›
In the past tense, werden changes its stem from 'e' into 'u' : werden - wir wurden. More often, you will use this verb in the passive form in the past, together with another verb in Partizip II: Das Haus wurde gebaut. (The house was built.)How can I learn German fast by myself? ›
- Hear and Repeat German Letter Sounds. ...
- Stockpile Some Easy “Framework Words” ...
- Expand Your Vocabulary with Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives. ...
- Start Putting Sentences Together. ...
- Memorize Reusable German Phrases. ...
- Watch Movies and Videos in German (Dubbed, Then Authentic) ...
- Read the news in German.
Not everyone has the time, money or confidence to take German language classes, or take a trip to Germany. But don't be disheartened: that doesn't mean you can't start somewhere. Taking a free online German language course on an app like Busuu is a great way to get started and take your studies wherever you go.
What is the most common German phrase? ›
- Hallo (Hello)
- Tschüss (Bye)
- Bitte (Please)
- Danke (Thanks)
- Entschuldigung (Excuse me)
- Sorry (Sorry)
- Formal: Können Sie mir helfen?; informal: Kannst du mir helfen? (Can you help me?)
- Formal: Sprechen Sie English?; informal: In Sprichst du Englisch? (Do you speak English?)
- Present Indefinite tense into present continuous tense.
- Present perfect tense into present perfect continuous tense.
- Past Indefinite tense into past continuous tense.
- Past perfect tense into past perfect continuous tense.
The modal verbs in German are: können (can, to be able to), müssen (must, to have to), wollen (will, to want to), sollen (should, am to, ought to, to be supposed to), dürfen (may, to be allowed to), mögen (to like, to like to). 1.What are the 5 modal verbs in German? ›
Modal verbs are used to modify or change other verbs to show such things as ability, permission or necessity. For example, she can swim; may I come?; we ought to go.In German, the modal verbs are dürfen, können, mögen, müssen, sollen and wollen.What is the difference between Werden and sein? ›
Therefore the werden-passive describes an action taking place which affects the meadow, whereas the sein-passive merely describes its state.Is werden haben or sein? ›
There are three important verbs that do not fit into the intransitive verb rule and have to use sein as the auxiliary verb: bleiben (to stay), werden (to become) and sein (to be). They do not express movement but they must take sein.
As it is a modal verb, it also has irregularities in its verb conjugation: ich will. du willst. er will.What are 5 examples of future tense? ›
- She'll write the e-mail after lunch.
- Don't lift that. You'll hurt yourself.
- You dropped your purse. ...
- I'll see you tomorrow.
- You'll get the answer by post.
- Dan's going to take the order over to the customer.
- The girls are going to sing 'Amazing Grace' now.
- I'll drive you to your lesson at 4 pm.
- Simple future tense.
- Future continuous tense.
- Future perfect tense.
- Future perfect continuous tense.
We use the future perfect simple (will/won't have + past participle) to talk about something that will be completed before a specific time in the future. The guests are coming at 8 p.m. I'll have finished cooking by then. On 9 October we'll have been married for 50 years. Will you have gone to bed when I get back?
Will future passive form examples? ›
Forming Simple Future Passive
Active : We will take the horses to the stable. Passive: The horses will be taken to the stable. Active : Will the manager sign the contract tomorrow. Passive: Will the contract be signed by the manager tomorrow.
There are two ways to use the simple future tense: you can use either “will” or “be going to”. Let's look at some examples to see them in action: “I will send you some information later today.” “I am going to travel more after I finish studying.”Why do we use future passive? ›
We write the sentences in the passive voice of the Future Indefinite tense when we want to focus on the object that the action will be acted upon, not who will be doing the action.What is a werden? ›
"werden" means "to become". And it's used to build the future.Does werden take nominative? ›
for predicate nouns: when the main verb is sein or werden, use the nominative for both subject and predicate nouns.Is Werden a Nominativ verb? ›
bleiben (pronounced: BLY-bin): to stay, remain. heißen (pronounced: HIGH-sin): to be called or named. werden (pronounced: VAIR-din): to become.
The passive verb form in the future perfect tense is made by putting 'will / shall + have been' before the past participle form of the verb.What are passive verbs examples? ›
A verb is in the passive voice when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb. For example, in “The ball was thrown by the pitcher,” the ball (the subject) receives the action of the verb, and was thrown is in the passive voice.How do you write passive voice in future continuous tense? ›
For Future Continuous, we cannot have Passive Voice.How long does it realistically take to learn German? ›
German is rated as a category 2 language and considered to be similar to English. The FSI estimates that German takes approximately 30 weeks, or 750 classroom hours to learn. This study was conducted on a group of language students who spent 25 hours per week in class, and three hours daily on individual practice.
How many years does it take to learn German fluently? ›
It shouldn't take long to become fluent in German. Actually, after 6-8 months of studying in intense courses (about twenty hours every week) you will be able to gain proficiency of your German language to navigate your daily life. It is possible to gain professional proficiency within a mere year!How long would it take to become fluent in German? ›
So, how long do you need to learn German if you want to reach this level of fluency? According to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you'll need about 750 hours of study to become fluent in German. This means that if you study 12-15 hours a week, you'll be able to speak like a pro in just a year!What is the best way to become fluent in German? ›
- Get a German Dictionary.
- Buy a German Textbook.
- Listen to German Music.
- Read German Children's Books.
- Read German Translations of English books.
- Get a German Sprachpartner (language partner)
- Find a Stammtisch (regular meeting of German speakers)
If you want to find the best way to learn German fast, immersion is the way to go. The most important thing that immersion provides is a constant stream of your target language. You will hear it all the time and read it everywhere.Is it OK to learn German from Duolingo? ›
Duolingo is brilliant for getting to grips with the listening and reading side of a language. You even get opportunities to practice your pronunciation. But when it comes to speaking in a real-life scenario, Duolingo's German course won't get you there by itself.What do German lovers call each other? ›
Schatz is the most common German term of endearment, according to surveys. Couples all over the country call each other this pet name or one of its many cute forms, such as Schätzchen (little treasure) or Schatzi (little treasure). It's also very common to use with children.What is the hardest German word to say? ›
1. Eichhörnchen (Squirrel) Also a difficult one in English, this is a classic when it comes to difficult German words to pronounce.How do you say cool in German slang? ›
Geil is one of these words in German that you absolutely need to master if you want to talk like a native. Yes, it is rather informal but it is widely used among young people all over Germany and in most of the cases, geil simply means awesome/cool/great rather than referring to its other, somehow derogative meanings.What are 12 tenses with example? ›
|Present Simple||He plays a game every Sunday.|
|Past Simple||He played a game every Sunday.|
|Future Simple||He will / is going to play the game every Sunday.|
|Past Continuous tense||Subject + was + V1 + ing + Object (Singular) Subject + were + V1 + ing + Object (Plural)|
|Past perfect continuous tense||Subject + had been + V1 + ing + Object|
|Present Simple tense||Subject + V1 + s/es + Object (Singular) Subject + V1 + Object (Plural)|
How many tenses Does 888 have? ›
The three tenses in English are: Present Tense. Past Tense. Future Tense.What are the 10 examples of modals? ›
There are ten types of modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to.What are the 3 rules for the use of modal verbs? ›
Modal verbs don't change to present or past tense. Modal verbs don't add -s to third person singular forms. Modal verbs are followed by the bare infinitive of the main verb - the form without "to."What are the 12 modal verbs? ›
The principal English modal verbs are can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, and must. Certain other verbs are sometimes classed as modals; these include ought, had better, and (in certain uses) dare and need.What are the 9 modal verbs with examples? ›
There are nine modal auxiliary verbs: shall, should, can, could, will, would, may, must, might. There are also quasi-modal auxiliary verbs: ought to, need to, has to.What are the most important verbs in German? ›
- Sein Conjugation (To be)
- Haben Conjugation (To have)
- Werden Conjugation (To become)
- Kommen Conjugation (To come)
- Ankommen Conjugation (To arrive)
- Verlassen Conjugation (To leave)
- Fahren Conjugation (To drive, to ride)
- Halten Conjugation (To hold, to keep)
Helping verbs, helping verbs, there are 23! Am, is, are, was and were, being, been, and be, Have, has, had, do, does, did, will, would, shall and should. There are five more helping verbs: may, might, must, can, could!What is the verb werden in German? ›
Werden means “to become.” The incautious German student might think that bekommen means “to become,” but be careful! Bekommen is a falscher Freund (false friend). It actually means “to receive.”How do you politely address someone in German? ›
"Guten Tag" (Good day) or “Hallo” (Hello) are the most common verbal greetings used in Germany. In the South, some people may say “Grüß Gott” (literally translating as 'Greet God'). In formal situations, one should address another person with their title and last name, “Herr” (Mr.) for men and “Frau” (Mrs.)What is the difference between Wollen and werden? ›
These two verbs have completely different meanings: “wollen” means to want, and “werden” means to become or is used to express the future tense.
Is werden a regular verb? ›
Notice that werden is irregular. It is a stem vowel changing verb. The e changes to i in the second person (du form) and third person (er/sie/es form).How do Germans greet and say goodbye? ›
Sie can be used to formally address one or more people. You would pair Sie with more formal greetings and farewells — such as Guten Tag (Hello/Good day) or Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye).How can I be respectful in German? ›
- Greetings are formal.
- A quick, firm handshake is the traditional greeting.
- Titles are very important and denote respect.
- Use a person's title and their surname until invited to use their first name.
- You should say Herr or Frau and the person's title and their surname.
The question “Wie geht es dir?” literally (and forgive me the chopped-up English here) means: “How goes it to you?”. Now you should answer the same way the other person asked you, and therefore it needs to be “Mir geht es gut” OR in chopped-up English: “To me it goes good”.Where is Werden used? ›
“Wurden” is the Präteritum (simple past) of the verb “werden”. This means that we use it when we would like to express that something became something or when we would like to express a passive sentence in the simple past tense in German.How do you conjugate werden? ›
- ich werde. du wirst.
- er wurde. wir sind geworden.
- ihr werdet werden.
- sie würden werden.
First of, werden is the German word for to become. But it's also used as a helper to build the future tense. And as if that wasn't enough, it's also used to build the passive voice. In this article, we'll of course look at the grammar a bit.What's the difference between Würde and wäre? ›
Both are 'moods' - expressing irreal situations, like a wish or something that didn't happen (yet) - of the verbs sein and werden respectively. Generally, wäre means 'would (like to) be' and würde means 'would (like to) become / do'.How do you use Wollen in German? ›
In German, you use “wollen” if you “want” something or plan to do something.