By emilycataneo Last updated:
Sometime at the beginning of B-levels, you’ll start to see the wordwerden cropping up everywhere.
You’ll learn that it’s used for passive constructions. Then you’ll learn it’s used for future tense. And subjunctive.And…the list goes on.
But never fear! Master the seven distinct uses of werden below, and you’ll open the door to seven brand new grammatical forms and seven new methods of self-expression in German.
- How Do You Conjugate Werden?
- Conjugation of werden in present tense
- Conjugation of werden in literary past tense
- Conjugation of werden in subjunctive
- 7 Distinct Uses of the German Verb Werden You’ve Got to Master
- 1. Werden as a Vollverb
- 2. Passive constructions ofWerden
- 3. Werden in Konjunktiv II form
- 4. Talking about the future with Werden
- 5. Implying attitudes aboutcertainty withWerden
- 6. Implying probabilitywithWerden
- 7. Giving commands with Werden
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How Do You Conjugate Werden?
Let’s start with the basics: Conjugation. Werden is used in various tenses, depending on its grammatical function, and it’s important to get those straight before we go any farther.
Conjugation of werden in present tense
Here’s how you conjugate werden in the present tense:
Conjugation of werden in literary past tense
Here’s how you conjugate werden in the literary past tense, also known asdas Präteritum:
Conjugation of werden in subjunctive
Here’s how you conjugate werden in subjunctive, also known as Konjuntiv II:
Got all that?
And now, let’s move on and learn how we use these different forms.
7 Distinct Uses of the German Verb Werden You’ve Got to Master
1. Werden as a Vollverb
What does werden mean when you use it in its normal, present tense form? 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.”
If you want to indicate that something’s in the process of becoming something else, werden is the word for you. If you want to say you’re getting sick, use werden.
Ich werde Krank.
I’m getting sick.
If you want to say someone’s starting a new career, say, becoming a doctor, use werden.
Er wird Arzt.
He’s becoming a doctor.
If you want to talk about something that became something else in the near past, you can use the Particip II of werden to create the present perfect tense (Perfekt): geworden.
Ich bin Journalistin geworden.
I became a journalist.
Since werden is a word that involves a change, make sure to use sein, not haben to form the present perfect tense.
If you want to talk about something that became something else in the simple past (which is often used in literary forms or history books), use the Präteritum forms above.
Goethe wurde Schriftsteller.
Goethe became a writer.
2. Passive constructions ofWerden
Have you figured out how to use werden to mean become or became? Good. Now let’s move on to using werden to construct passive sentences.
Remember, a passive construction is a construction where the subject of the sentence is acted upon by something else, rather than the subject of the sentence performing an action.An English example: The house was built.
To form a present tense passive construction in German, use the present tense of werden plus the Particip II version of a verb. For example:
Das Haus wird gebaut.
The house is being built.
To form a past passive construction in German, you could use either Perfekt or Präteritum. In Perfekt, use the Particip II of the verb plus worden. For example:
Das Haus ist gebaut worden.
The house was being built.
In Präteritum, or literary past tense, you would use the Präteritum version of werden plus the Particip II. For example:
Der Song wurde von den Beatles gesungen.
The song was sung by the Beatles.
3. Werden in Konjunktiv II form
Now let’s talk about how you can use werden to express subjunctive, or conditional, forms.
Remember the Konjunctiv II conjugations in the first section of this post? Refresh your memory on those, because you’ll need them to create the Konjunctiv.
Basically, these constructions are used to express something that isn’t real: a wish, a hope or an unreal situation. How do you form these constructions? There are eight verbs that have their own Konjunctiv II forms, but the rest of the time youuse the Konjunctiv II form of werden, plus the infinitive of a verb. (You can read more about those verbs with their own Konjuntiv II formsthem here.) Here are some examples:
Wenn ich das machen würde…
If I didthat…
Ich würde Sie ja gerne mitnehmen, wenn Sie Zeit hätten.
I would gladly take you with me, if you had time.
Wenn ich Geld hätte, würde ich einen Kaffee trinken.
If I had money, I would drink a coffee.
Werden can also be used with the infinitive form of a verb to create four different structures. The first is not very important:
4. Talking about the future with Werden
To talk about the future (Zukunft), Germans use werden plus the infinitive form of a verb.
Im August werde ich in den USA Urlaub machen.
In August, I am going to the USA for a vacation.
Why is the future tense the least important use of werden plus infinitive? Because Germans don’t actually use the future tense all that often. It’s much more common for Germans to simply use present tense and imply future using context clues, such as in the following example:
Morgen koche ich etwas.
Tomorrow, I’m cooking something.
But it’s still important to know the future tense and to know how to differentiate it from the other forms of werden plus infinitive.
5. Implying attitudes aboutcertainty withWerden
Werden plus infinitive can also be used to talk about guarantees—also known as Sicherheit(security).
Sie wird garantiert krank sein.
So how do you distinguish a sentence that’s talking about a certainty from a sentence that’s talking about the future? It’s all about the context words, words that mean “definitely” or “for sure.” Look for the following words as indicators of certainty:
auf jeden Fall
6. Implying probabilitywithWerden
Just as you can use werden plus infinitive to talk about guarantees, you can also use it to talk about probabilities. For example, if you wanted to say,
Maria wird gerade am Strand liegen.
Maria is probably lying on the beach right now.
A sentence construction that’s used for probabilities and certainties. Sounds confusing, right? But don’t panic! Look for these context words that mean probably, and you’ll be able to spot a sentence like this in no time.
7. Giving commands with Werden
Finally, werden plus infinitive constructions can be used to give someone a command.
Du wirst jetzt sofort kommen!
You need to come now!
This form of command is stricter and more official than an Imperativ command.
Now you’re ready to go!
While werden may seem tricky at first, keep practicing and soon you’ll be using the word like a native German speaker.
I recommend listening to the word in use in authentic, natural context, such as on a language learning program like FluentU. On this app and website, you can watch authentic German videos that have interactive captions and familiarize yourself with all of the uses for this word (and learn plenty of others while you’re at it).
Werden has a lot of uses, and it can be confusing to try to figure them out. But with some studying and a lot of practice, you’ll be well on your way to knowing all these different forms.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
What are the different uses of werden? ›
Besides being an irregular auxiliary verb, werden can also be a helping verb, indicate the passive voice, and indicate degrees of certainty. You can also use werden to talk about the future, express if/then conditions, and give commands.What are examples of Würde? ›
“Würde” – this translates into “would like”. Just as in English, this is a more polite way to express the same idea. If, for example, asked whether you'd like anything to drink, your reply would usually be, “Ich würde gern eine Cola haben” (I would like a coke have – I'd like to have a coke).Where is Werden used? ›
The German verb “wurden”
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. For instance: “Das Gemüse wurde (von den Kindern) gegessen.”
Therefore the werden-passive describes an action taking place which affects the meadow, whereas the sein-passive merely describes its state.What is the use of Konjunktiv 2? ›
The Konjunktiv II (subjunctive II) is used to express imagined wishes or conditions. It can also be used to give advice or suggestions, or to make a sentence politer.Is Konjunktiv 1 used? ›
Konjunktiv I is used for the 2nd and 3rd person singular and 2nd person plural, the Konjunktiv II for the 1st person singular and the 1st and 3rd person plural to avoid confusion. We can also use the Konjunktiv II to express a wish or desire, to make conditional sentences or to make special, polite phrases.What is 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 werden in the future? ›
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.What is the simple past of werden in German? ›
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.)What is the difference between werden and wollen? ›
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 regular or irregular? ›
Today we are going to talk about the conjugation and use of one of the most important (and irregular) German verbs, namely werden. We all have plans, we all want to make some changes and often need to tell others what is going to happen or what happened in the past.Where can I use Kein and Keinen? ›
When to use “kein/e” In German, we use “kein” or “keine” if we want to negate a noun. If you choose “kein” and “keine” depends on the gender of your German noun. Now, in the plural form, there are no indefinite articles (as like as in English) because “ein” or “eine” always refer to a single thing.How do you use hätte? ›
To form the past subjunctive with a modal verb, you need to use a double infinitive. The auxiliary verb will always be “hätte,” even if the main verb is a verb of motion or describes a change of state: Manni hätte die Tasche nicht vergessen sollen. Manni should not have forgotten the bag.What is the Konjunktiv II of werden? ›
The conjugation of werden (will, become) in subjunctive II is: ich würde, du würdest, er würde, wir würden, ihr würdet, sie würden.How do you use Durfen in German? ›
The usage of “dürfen”
Or, in other words, you can use it if you want to say: “to be allowed to,” “may,” “must not,” “not to be allowed to” or “may not.” Also, with “dürfen,” the second verb goes to the end of the sentence and stands in the infinitive form.
The Indikativ/Indicative mood is the most common in both languages, used for describing reality: things that have actually happened, are happening or are expected to happen. The Konjunktiv I serves to distance the writer from indirect or reported speech: according to his spokesman, he knows nothing about the scandal.What is the difference between Präteritum and Konjunktiv 2? ›
The present form of the Konjunktiv II will be the same as the simple past tense (Präteritum) for regular verbs and is used mostly for auxiliary verbs and modal verbs. For example: Ich hätte gerne ein Stück Pizza. (I would like a piece of pizza.)How do you know if a verb is Akkusativ or Dativ in German? ›
- the dog: der Hund.
- the cat: die Katze.
- the horse: das Pferd.
The general subjunctive is the one native English speakers think of when referring to the subjunctive (e.g. could, would, should). This grammatical mood, referred to in German as the Konjunktiv II, indicates hypothetical or unreal/imaginary situations, including wishes and desires.What is Tekamolo in German? ›
So ingenious German teachers came up with the abbreviation “tekamolo”, which stands for temporal (time), kausal (reason), modal (manner), lokal (place). I find the question words associated with those information more helpful. They are wann (when), warum (why), wie (how), wo (where)? On Tekamolo- German word order.
What is the difference between heiße and Heißen? ›
In the present tense singular, it has only two forms: heiße (ich) and heißt (du, er/sie/es). However, as you see in the conjugation chart, the present tense plural is heißen in all but one instance. While studying the present tense, you might also consider studying the verb mood Subjunctive I (der Konjunktiv).Is werden stem changing verbs? ›
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.)Is werden the future? ›
Future 1 and “werden”
It has the same function as “will” in the English “will Future”. By the help of “werden”, we can express that the meaning of the sentence is regarding the future.
The principal English modal verbs are can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, and must.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 9 types of modals? ›
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 4 types of stem changing verbs? ›
- e-ie stem changers.
- e – i stem changers.
- o-ue stem changers.
- u – ue stem changers.
- e-ie stem-changing verbs (empezar, sentir, querer, etc.)
- e-i stem-changing verbs (decir, repetir, pedir, etc.)
- o-ue stem-changing verbs (poder, volver, dormir, etc.)
As an auxiliary verb, werden can “help” other verbs express hypotheticals and events in the future, as well as form the passive. When used as a full verb, werden means “to become” or “to turn into”. Coupled with an adjective or a noun, it can describe plans, changes, intentions, and conditions.What is the future of werden in German? ›
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.
Is Werden a modal? ›
As it is a modal verb, it also has irregularities in its verb conjugation: ich will. du willst. er will.What is the Present subjunctive of werden? ›
The conjugation of werden (will, become) in subjunctive I is: ich werde, du werdest, er werde, wir werden, ihr werdet, sie werden. The endings -e, -est, -e, -en, -et, -en are appended to the base or verb stem werd.What is the perfect tense in German? ›
The perfect tense is formed with an auxiliary verb – sein (to be) sein, Präsens or haben (to have) haben, Präsens – and the past participle: subject + auxiliary verb + other information + past participle. Anna ist gestern mit dem Auto gefahren. Anna drove the car yesterday.What language does not have future? ›
Some languages, such as Finnish or German, don't require speakers to talk about the future in a distinct way. Rather than saying “We shall go to the movies tomorrow”, they treat tomorrow as if it were today: “We go to the movies tomorrow.” These languages are described as “present-tensed”.Why do British say in future? ›
It is often used in the context of changing habits or behaviour, and may form part of a reprimand (such as in the above example). In the second example “in the future” means “at/from some future point in time”. “In future” is used mainly in British English. Speakers of US English may not be familiar with it.