7 Distinct Uses of the German Verb Werden You've Got to Master (2023)

7 Distinct Uses of the German Verb Werden You've Got to Master (1)

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.

Contents

  • 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:

ich werde

du wirst

Sie werden

er wird

wir werden

ihr werdet

Sie werden

Conjugation of werden in literary past tense

Here’s how you conjugate werden in the literary past tense, also known asdas Präteritum:

ich wurde

du wurdest

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Sie wurden

er wurde

wir wurden

ihr wurdet

Sie wurden

Conjugation of werden in subjunctive

Here’s how you conjugate werden in subjunctive, also known as Konjuntiv II:

ich würde

du würdest

Sie würden

er würde

wir würden

ihr würdet

Sie würden

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.”

(Video) German Verb Practice: finden

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.

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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.
She’sdefinitely sick.

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:

sicher
surely

bestimmt
definitely

sicherlich
certainly

gewiss
assuredly

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mit Sicherheit
with certainty

garantiert
guaranteed

auf jeden Fall
absolutely

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.

vermutlich
presumably

wahrscheinlich
probably

vielleicht
maybe

möglicherweise
possibly

wohl
surely

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.

(Video) If You Understand German But Can't Speak it...This video is for You!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

FAQs

How is werden used in German? ›

The first and most common usage for werden is as an auxiliary verb, meaning “to become.” You can use this form of werden in the present and past tenses. Secondly, you'll encounter werden as a way to express sentences in the future tense.

Where do we use werden? ›

“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.

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 conjugate werden? ›

Conjugate the verb werden:
  1. ich werde. du wirst.
  2. er wurde. wir sind geworden.
  3. ihr werdet werden.
  4. sie würden werden.

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.”

Is werden haben or sein? ›

Intransitive verbs

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.

Is werden future tense? ›

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 language is 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.

How do you address a man in Germany? ›

In formal situations, one should address another person with their title and last name, “Herr” (Mr.) for men and “Frau” (Mrs.) for women. It is polite to continue to use formal titles until the person invites you to move on to a first-name basis.

Is werden a modal verb? ›

As it is a modal verb, it also has irregularities in its verb conjugation: ich will. du willst. er will.

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? ›

Nominative Verbs

bleiben (pronounced: BLY-bin): to stay, remain. heißen (pronounced: HIGH-sin): to be called or named. werden (pronounced: VAIR-din): to become.

What are the 13 etre verbs? ›

allé, arrivé, venu, revenu, entré, rentré, descendu, devenu, sorti, parti, resté, retourné, monté, tombé, né et mort.

What are the 6 forms of etre? ›

#1 Être In The Present Tense
  • je suis (I am)
  • tu es (you are)
  • il/elle est (he/she/it is)
  • nous sommes (we are)
  • vous êtes (you are)
  • ils/elles sont (they are)

How do you use WENN Wann and ALS? ›

Long story short, you should remember the following:
  1. Does your sentence express a condition? – If so, use “wenn”.
  2. Does your sentence happen in the past and focus on a specific moment? – If so, use “als”.
  3. Does your sentence contain a question? – If so, use “wann”.
Nov 10, 2019

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 you identify a verb in German? ›

Like the modals, and unlike normal German verbs, wissen has the same form for ich (1st person sing.)
...
Wissen Conjugations.
PRÄSENS (Present)PRÄTERITUM (Preterite/Past)PERFEKT (Pres. Perfect)
ich weiß I knowich wusste I knewich habe gewusst I knew, have known
6 more rows
Feb 1, 2019

What is the past participle of werden? ›

To form such a sentence, you will use the past form of the verb werden and the Partizip II (past participle) of another verb.
...
Werden in the Past Tense.
PronounVerbMeaning
siewurdeshe became
eswurdeit became
wirwurdenwe became
ihrwurdetyou became
5 more rows
Jan 13, 2022

How do you answer Machen Sie? ›

The standard answer is to say "thank you" (for being asked) and then you say, that you're fine.

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 are the 4 types of future tense? ›

There are four future verb tenses in English.
  • Simple future tense.
  • Future continuous tense.
  • Future perfect tense.
  • Future perfect continuous tense.

What are the 4 types of future tense with examples? ›

There are four different forms of the future tense, namely,
  • Simple Future Tense.
  • Future Continuous Tense.
  • Future Perfect Tense.
  • Future Perfect Continuous Tense.

What is Berlin's official language? ›

The official language of Germany is German, with over 95 percent of the country speaking Standard German or a dialect of German as their first language.

Is Dutch a Low German language? ›

Classification. Low German is a part of the continental West Germanic dialect continuum. To the West, it blends into the Low Franconian languages, including Dutch.

What are German modal verbs? ›

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).

What do Germans call their husband? ›

Schatz, meaning “treasure”, is one of the most common terms of endearment you'll hear in Germany, used equally among young lovers and couples who have been married for years, as well as for children. You can also mix it up by making it into a diminutive like “Schatzi” or “Schätzchen”.

What do Germans call their boyfriends? ›

Practice and memorize these ten terms of endearment, study up on your romantic German phrases and learn a romantic song in German. You'll be wooing your new Freund (boyfriend) or Freundin (girlfriend) in no time at all.

How do Germans show respect? ›

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.

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 types of modal verbs? ›

There are nine modal auxiliary verbs: shall, should, can, could, will, would, may, must, might.

What are the 10 types of modal verbs? ›

There are ten types of modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to. Can (or cannot/can't) shows ability, in the sense of knowing how or being able to do something.

What are the 7 nominative pronouns? ›

The subjective (or nominative) pronouns are I, you (singular), he/she/it, we, you (plural), they and who. A subjective pronoun acts as a subject in a sentence.

How do you know if its nominative or Akkusativ? ›

der Nominativ: The subject is always in the nominative case. The articles take the form: der/ein, die/eine, das/ein, die/-. der Akkusativ: Most objects are in the accusative case. The articles take the form: den/einen, die/eine, das/ein, die/-.

How do you identify accusative and dative? ›

In the simplest terms, the accusative is the direct object that receives the direct impact of the verb's action, while the dative is an object that is subject to the verb's impact in an indirect or incidental manner.

Is هذا a pronoun? ›

The pronoun هو in the example above is placed between هذا and كتاب to break that unit. It is called the “pronoun of separation” (ضميرُ الفصْل in Arabic). A phrase such as هذه المديرة , “this director (f),” is broken up with the feminine pronouns هي to get هذه هي المديرة, “This is the director (f).”

What are the 4 grammatical cases in German? ›

There are four cases in German: nominative (subject), accusative (direct object), dative (indirect object), and genitive (possessive).

What is Können? ›

Können is a German irregular verb meaning can, to be able to. Können appears on the 100 Most Used German Verbs Poster as the 25th most used irregular verb.

What are the 17 Vandertramp verbs? ›

They are the Mrs Vandertramp verbs, and they are these:
  • Monter (elle est montée)
  • Retourner (elle est retournée)
  • Sortir (elle est sortie)
  • Venir (elle est venue)
  • Aller (elle est allée)
  • Naître (elle est née)
  • Descendre (elle est descendue)
  • Entrer (elle est entrée)
May 6, 2015

What are the 7 be verbs? ›

“To be” verbs are: are, am, is, was, were, been and being. They are used to describe or tell us the condition of people, things, places and ideas. For example, they could tell us the subject's age, nationality, job or other traits.

What are the 25 main verbs? ›

25 Most Common Verbs
  • be.
  • have.
  • do.
  • say.
  • get.
  • make.
  • go.
  • know.

What are the Super 7 verbs in French? ›

The Super 7™ Verbs by Terry Waltz in French
  • C'est / elle est / il est.
  • Il y a.
  • Elle a / Il a.
  • Elle veut / Il veut.
  • Elle va / Il va.
  • Elle peut / Il peut.
  • Elle aime / Il aime.
Apr 22, 2022

What are the 6 different endings for AR verbs in order? ›

-Ar verbs have six endings: o, as, a, amos, áis, an.

What are the six 6 most common forms of the verb to be *? ›

Of all Modern English verbs, to be has the most forms: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been.

How do you use Quand? ›

When do we use the word quand in French?
  1. Quand is used when you're asking a question. ...
  2. We also use quand to indicate a correlation of two events that occur at the same time. ...
  3. And you'll need to use quand if two events occur at the same time repeatedly.

How do you use Dass? ›

“dass” in German

Before there German spelling reform in 1996, the conjunction “dass” was written “daß,” and you can sometimes still find that in older books or articles. However, you can use “dass” if you want to introduce a subordinate clause with “that.” For instance: Ich weiß, dass du Maik bist.

How do you use quand in a sentence? ›

You can use quand to say when things happen.

Je dormais quand il est arrivé. (I was sleeping when he arrived.) Dis-moi quand tu arriveras. (Tell me when you arrive.)

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.

How do you compliment a man in German? ›

Compliments Never Hurt: 16 German Phrases That Flatter
  1. Du siehst heute toll aus. (You look great today.) ...
  2. Du bist sehr schön. (You are very beautiful.) ...
  3. Du siehst umwerfend aus! ...
  4. Gelb steht dir. ...
  5. Deine Frisur gefällt mir. ...
  6. Das ist eines der Dinge, die ich an dir mag. ...
  7. Ich liebe dein Lächeln. ...
  8. Ich mag deine Schuhe.
Feb 14, 2022

How do you congratulate someone in German? ›

The most common way to say “congratulations” in German is Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

What does the OK hand gesture mean in German? ›

Making hands into two fists, thumbs tucked inside the other fingers and making pounding motion lightly on a surface expresses "good luck." Never use the "okay" sign (index finger and thumb jointed together to make a circle). This is considered a rude gesture. Don't point your index finger to your own head.

How do you flirt with a guy in German? ›

21 TOP PHRASES USED WHEN FLIRTING IN GERMAN

It was love at first sight! Ich möchte nicht stören, aber ich musste dich einfach ansprechen! Ich kann mit dir so viel lachen! Mir kommt es vor als würden wir uns schon seit Ewigkeiten kennen!

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).

What are the 7 modal verbs in German? ›

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.

Is the German word for duck? ›

duck → ducken, abtauchen, tauchen.

What do you call a beautiful German girl? ›

You can use schön “beautiful” and hinreißend “gorgeous” for women.

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 do Germans say instead of bless you? ›

German. Interestingly, Gesundheit, the German response to a sneeze, is also the most common expression for English speakers who prefer not to say “bless you.” It simply means “health,” which is used in a number of languages when someone sneezes (makes sense).

What do Germans say before a toast? ›

Prost, it rhymes with toast! Prost us a quick and easy way to toast your drinks, while still adding a bit of German flair to the occasion. You can also say, “ein Prost!” which means, “a toast!”

How do you say very best wishes in German? ›

Ich wünsche dir alles Gute! ” translates to “best wishes” in German and similar to “Alles Gute” it can be used to congratulate or to wish someone the best for a future event. It is also primarily used in writing.

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