When you learn German, you quickly come across the German verb werden, which has many different meanings and uses. As an intermediate speaker, you might not be sure how to learn the different usages.
Determining the meaning of werden often requires looking for contextual clues in sentences that can tell you which form is appropriate.
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.
First, let's look at the various ways to conjugate the word werden. Then, I'll take you through an explanation of each usage variation.
By the end of this post, you'll be using werden like a pro!
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Werden Conjugation: How To Conjugate The Verb Werden
You'll find all of the various ways to conjugate werden in the Simple Present, Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Subjunctive forms summarized in the reference table below.
|Pronoun||Werden Simple Present||Werden Simple Past||Werden Present Perfect||Werden Subjunctive|
|ich (I)||werde||wurde||bin geworden or bin, verb, worden||würde|
|du (you)||wirst||wurdest||bist geworden or bist, verb, worden||würdest|
|er/sie/es (he/she/it)||wird||wurde||ist geworden or ist, verb, worden||würde|
|ihr (you plural)||werdet||wurdet||seid geworden or seid, verb, worden||würdet|
|wir (we)||werden||wurden||sind geworden or sind, verb, worden||würden|
|Sie (you formal)||werden||wurden||sind geworden or sind, verb, worden||würden|
Next, let's dive into the different uses for the word werden in German. As we go along, I'll go through each option and its specific meanings.
7 Different Ways To Use Werden In German
Altogether, I'll show you seven unique uses for werden in German. You'll find plenty of examples to help you get the hang of how to use each form.
By the end, you'll know how to distinguish each usage and have a clearer understanding of this common but confusing German verb.
1. When Werden Means “To Become”
One of the most common uses for werden means “to become” or “get” as in, “to turn into something” or “change from one state to another.”
|Pronoun||Werden (Simple Present)|
|ihr (you plural)||werdet|
|Sie (you formal)||werden|
- Example: Das Essen wird kalt. (The food is getting cold.)
- Example: Es wird endlich Sommer. (It's finally becoming summer.)
- Example: Wir werden ungeduldig. (We're becoming “getting” impatient.)
You may be familiar with the German verb bekommen, which sounds like the English “become” but has an entirely different meaning.
Remember that werden means “get” as in “to become something,” while bekommen means “get” as in “to receive something.”
- Example: Ich bekomme gute Noten. (I receive good grades, or I get good grades.)
- Example: Ich werde die beste Studentin. (I'm becoming the best student, or I'm turning into the best student.)
When you talk about a process or transition, choose the verb werden. You can also use werden as an auxiliary verb in the past tenses.
- Example: Das Essen wurde kalt. (The food became cold.)
- Example: Das Essen ist kalt geworden. (The food has become cold.)
Both past tense options essentially have the same meaning.
2. Using Werden To Talk About The Future
Another common way to use the verb werden in German is to talk about the future. Using werden together with the infinitive of another verb, you can say what “is going to” happen.
This form comes in handy when you want to tell others about your upcoming plans.
- 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.)
In both German and English, it's common to imply the future without using werden.
- Example: Im July macht er Urlaub. (He's going on vacation in July.)
- Example: Wir wissen nicht ob sie kommen. (We don't know if they're coming.)
In English, we use the “ing” or gerund form of the verb and drop “will.” Similarly, in German, you can drop werden and conjugate the remaining verbs as usual.
3. Passive Voice Using Werden
In English, you would typically consider using the passive voice as improper, but you'll see it more frequently in German. Written German and academic texts often contain the passive voice and prefer this form over the active voice.
Use a conjugated form of werden with the present perfect form of the main verb to form the German passive.
- Example: Mein Auto wird abgeschleppt. (My car is being towed.)
- Example: Die Gäste werden begrüßt. (The guests are being greeted.)
- Example: Du wirst angeleitet. (You are being guided.)
You can also form the passive using the simple past tense of the word werden.
|Pronoun||Werden (Simple Past)|
|ihr (you plural)||wurdet|
|Sie (you formal)||wurden|
You'll see the difference in the rewritten examples from above.
- Example: Mein Auto wurde abgeschleppt. (My car was towed.)
- Example: Die Gäste wurden begrüßt. (The guests were greeted.)
- Example: Du wurdest angeleitet. (You were guided.)
Use the present perfect tense in a similar way.
|Pronoun||Werden (Present Perfect)|
|ich (I)||bin (verb) worden|
|du (you)||bist (verb) worden|
|er/sie/es (he/she/it)||ist (verb) worden|
|ihr (you plural)||seid (verb) worden|
|wir (we)||sind (verb) worden|
|Sie (you formal)||sind (verb) worden|
- Example: Mein Auto ist abgeschleppt worden. (My car has been towed.)
- Example: Die Gäste sind begrüßt worden. (The guests have been greeted.)
- Example: Du bist angeleitet worden. (You have been guided.)
Both past forms of the passive are very similar, so you can use either one you prefer.
4. The Subjunctive Form Of Werden
Conditional or hypothetical sentence structures also use a form of werden. This form of the verb allows you to express your wishes, what you would like, or what you would do in an if/then circumstance.
|ihr (you plural)||würdet|
|Sie (you formal)||würden|
You can use this form of werden to give opinions, judgments, possibilities, and potential outcomes.
- Example: Ich würde gerne Urlaub machen. (I would like to go on vacation.)
- Example: Du würdest niemals Fallschirmspringen gehen. (You would never go sky diving.)
- Example: Wir würden lieber essen. (We would rather eat.)
Typically, you'll use this form the most in spoken and colloquial German. In written German, it's more common to use the subjunctive form of the main verb without würden.
5. Werden For Expressing Certainty
You can use werden to emphasize the certainty of something you're expressing. Seeing one of the signal words below is a clue that the form of werden in the sentence is for emphasis.
- auf jeden Fall (of course)
- bestimmt (certainly)
- garantiert (guaranteed)
- gewiss (surely)
- mit Sicherheit (with certainty)
- sicher (surely)
If you see or hear words of certainty, then werden is likely there for emphasis and not as a future expression.
- Example: Du wirst sicher Hunger haben. (Surely, you're hungry.)
- Example: Das wird garantiert schwer. (That's guaranteed to be difficult.)
Adding werden to your sentences is one way to express degrees of certainty or uncertainty in German.
6. Probability And Werden
Using werden in a sentence construction, you can also express a situation that is probable or likely. Although this might sound confusing, these sentences aren't as tricky to spot as you might think.
- Example: Er wird noch im Bett liegen. (He's probably still laying in bed.)
- Example: Sie wird wohl am kochen sein. (Surely she's cooking.)
When you see noch, wohl, doch, schon, or similar words, you're likely dealing with a probability statement. Although these sentences look identical to the future form of werden, you'll interpret the meaning differently.
If a phrase makes more sense when you insert a word meaning “sure,” “likely,” or “probably,” then it's a probability statement and not the future tense.
7. Commands Using Werden
The final way you might come across the German werden is in commands. Together with an infinitive verb, you can use werden to emphasize your demands.
- Example: Du wirst sofort aufhören! (Stop this instant!)
- Example: Du wirst jetzt gehen! (Leave immediately!)
- Example: Du wirst ganz nah zuhören! (Listen carefully!)
Using werden sounds stricter than the imperative form, which may be too short to get the attention of others.
Now you know four primary uses for the verb werden and three secondary uses for the verb 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. Werden also appears frequently in the passive voice, which you'll often use in German. Forms of werden with “ü” (würden) indicate conditional if/then statements.
Finally, werden also has three secondary uses to express certainty, probability, and give commands. You'll recognize these forms from context and signal words accompanying werden.
I hope you had fun learning the different uses for the verb werden and better understand how to use it. Now it's time to go out there and listen to German podcasts, watch German movies and read German books and spot the different uses of werden in context.
- ich werde. du wirst.
- er wurde. wir sind geworden.
- ihr werdet werden.
- sie würden werden.
- Start With Regular Verbs In The Present Tense. ...
- Memorise The Most Common Irregular German Verbs.
- Once You've Learned The Present, Move On To Other Tenses.
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.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.
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!Can I learn German in 3 months? ›
You need more than 3 months to be fluent. But even with such a short time, if you adjust your strategy, you can actually learn German and get really close to being fluent. And I don't mean being able to say, 'I'm doing fine' in German as fast as a native speaker or being able to combine words you learned on Duolingo.Can you learn German in 2 months? ›
Language students who practice a method of complete immersion, with eight hours of practice per day, could learn German to a high level in a matter of months. Those who dedicate at least one hour per day to language learning can achieve an intermediate level within two years.What is the difference between werden and wurden? ›
“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 use Je pense? ›
Penser is used just like "to think." Je pense, donc je suis. I think, therefore I am. Il pense que tu as raison.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.
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.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.
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 is the German verb to be? ›
Sein (to be) is a very important verb, and it is used in many different situations, including describing people and things, giving opinions and saying where you are. Sein is irregular. This means that it doesn't follow the same pattern as regular verbs. Think about to be in English.What is the difference between Wenn and Wann? ›
if it answers to “what?” then use wann, if it answer to “what time?”, then use wenn. Pretty simple, actually.What is the difference between WENN Wann and ALS? ›
"Als" is used for completed actions and hence in the past, whereas "wenn" is used for recurring events, irrespective of the tense.What level of German is considered fluent? ›
How many German language levels are there? The German language has 6 CEFR levels – starting with A1 (absolute beginner), and ending with C2 (completely fluent).Is B2 German fluent? ›
B2 is the first level that means that you can speak really fluent and understand 80% of the situations that you find yourself in repeatedly. You can prepare yourself for the exam and even see a sample of the language level here.How long does it take to get to C1 German? ›
|Assess your current level & test your German online!||Super Intensive course (30 lessons/week)|
|B2||upper intermediate||6 weeks*|
- Know Your Goal - And Plan How to Get There. ...
- Study Daily. ...
- Prioritize Key Words. ...
- Start Talking from the Beginning. ...
- Study Vocabulary Daily. ...
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Long story short: You can survive in Germany without knowing the German language; most Germans speak English, the train usually runs announcements in English and in restaurants or bars, waiters and waitresses often speak English, especially in the city center.How long does it take to be fluent? ›
According to FSI research, it takes around 480 hours of practice to reach basic fluency in all Group 1 languages.Why is German so hard to learn? ›
But what makes German so hard to learn? The only reason that German seems so difficult to people is that it has grammar rules that other languages don't. German is a language with relatively high “inflection,” meaning that the words in a sentence change based on their grammatical roles.Can you become fluent in German with Duolingo? ›
Duolingo German does not let you practice writing or speaking, which means these skills will be at a much lower level than your listening and reading skills, which means you won't reach conversational fluency.How many days does it take to learn German fluently? ›
In short, the FSI estimated that learning German will take approximately 30 weeks (750 hours) for English speakers. This may seem like a lot of time, but it's a fraction compared to languages like Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, which took students up to 88 weeks to learn.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.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 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 a werden? ›
"werden" means "to become". And it's used to build the future.
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 does Funfzig mean in German? ›
noun. fifty [number] the number or figure 50. fifty [number] the age of 50.What is the difference between Mussen and Durfen? ›
“Müssen” vs. “dürfen” To have a good foundation, you should know that the German verb “müssen” means “to must” or “to have to,” and the translation of “dürfen” is to “be allowed to.”How do you respond to Wie gehts dir? ›
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”.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.What can I say instead of Guten Tag? ›
In standard German to say “Good day” we will rely on “Guten Tag”, commonly used in particular in the Thüringen region, or we will say “Guten Morgen” to say “Good morning!”. These, amongst with the general “Hallo”, are the most widespread expressions throughout all of the German-speaking territories.What are the 4 types of future tense examples? ›
- Simple future tense.
- Future continuous tense.
- Future perfect tense.
- Future perfect continuous tense.
- Simple Future Tense – used to denote an action that will happen in the future.
- Future Continuous Tense – used to indicate an action that will be taking place in the future.
- Future Perfect Tense – used to represent an action that starts in the present and will happen in the future.
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.