Future tenses are necessary to convey future plans, assumptions or promises. In English we achieve this by using will, shall, or going to. There are two future tenses in German, Future 1 and Future 2 (also called Future Perfect).You will also hear people using the present tense when referring to future events, especially in the spoken German language, which sounds more complicated than it actually is.
So let's explore all possible futures, starting with Future 1, which is the most commonly used Future tense.
1) Forming and Using Future 1
You can easily recognize Future 1, because it always contains the auxiliary verb werden in conjunction with a second verb in the infinitive form. It can be translated with will, shall, going to. Just on its own, werden can also be translated as to become.To form the tense Future 1, simply choose a personal pronoun (ich, du, wir etc.), select the matching conjugation of the verb werden in the present tense, and add the infinitive of the verb you want to use at the end. The infinitive is the verb form, that you will find in a dictionary.
|Ich werde singen.
|I will sing.
|Er wird arbeiten.
|He will work.
|Wir werden tanzen.
|We will dance.
So the the only verb you have to conjugate is werden!
werden: conjugation in the present tense
|ich werde reden
|I will/shall/am going to read
|du wirst schreiben
|you will write
|er/sie/es wird essen
|he/she/it will eat
|wir werden schreien
|We will scream
|ihr werdet lachen
|you will laugh
|sie/Sie werden denken
|they/you (formal) will think
Examples of Future 1 in action:
|Ich werde dich nie vergessen.
|I will never forget you.
|Du wirst deine Traumfrau heiraten.
|You will marry the woman of your dreams!
|In 100 Jahren werden wir Siedlungen auf dem Mond haben.
|In 100 years we will have settlements on the moon.
|Morgen wird er das Auto waschen.
|Tomorrow he is going to wash the car.
|Das wirst du nicht weitersagen!
|You will not tell this to anybody!
Instead of Future 1, you can also use the present tense, if the context of the sentence indicates that you are referring to the future.
2) Using Present Tense to Express the Future:
The use of present tense is slightly more common in spoken German. If you want to express future plans, intentions, or assumptions by using the present tense, you need to create context, for example using temporal or modal adverbs.
|Morgen bin ich nicht zu Hause.
|Tomorrow I will not be home. Literally: Tomorrow I am not at home.
|Nächste Woche regnet es.
|Next week it will be raining.
|Das schaffst du niemals!
|You will never accomplish this!
The use of the present tense can indicate a greater likelihood of something happening. But the difference is very subtle, and Future 1 and Present tense are used interchangeably. There is no right and wrong here.
|Montag regnet es.
|Present tense (most likely)
|Montag wird es regnen.
|Future 1 (possibly)
Both mean: Monday it will rain.
|Ich komme zu deinem Geburtstag.
|Present tense (most likely)
|Ich werde zu deinem Geburtstag kommen.
|Future 1 (possibly)
Both mean: I will come to your birthday.
Now that we have covered the most common ways of talking about the future, we will look at Future 2. It is rarely used, but you will come across it occasionally.
3) Forming and Using Future 2:
To form this tense, choose a personal pronoun (ich, du, wir etc.), select the matching conjugation of the verb werden in the present tense, plus the past participle of a verb, and add the infinitive of haben or sein at the end.
|personal pronoun with werden
|infinitive of haben/sein
|Ich werde den Zug
|I will have missed the train.
|Es wird zu spät
|It will have been too late.
|Wir werden die Arbeit
|We will have accomplished the work.
When and why is Future 2 used?
It is used to express a future event, that will happen before another future event and is seen as completed.
|Ich werde den Zug verpasst haben,
|wenn ich nicht am Bahnhof stehen werde.
|I will have missed the train,
|if I will not stand at the station.
|Du wirst angekommen sein,
|wenn du den Kirchturm sehen wirst.
|You will have arrived,
|when you will see the church tower.
And just as Future 1 can be replaced with the Present tense, Future 2 can be replaced with the Present Perfect tense (Perfekt). This is far more commonly used and indicates the same causality of future events..
|Present Perfect instead of Future 2
|Present tense instead of Future 1
|Ich habe den Zug verpasst,
|wenn ich nicht am Bahnhof stehe.
|I have missed the train,
|if I don't stand at the station.
|Du bist angekommen,
|wenn du den Kirchturm siehst.
|You have arrived,
|when you see the church tower.
Another use for Future 2: Expressing assumptions about past events
|Nach unserem letzten Gespräch wird sie ihre Meinung geändert haben.
|After our last talk she will have changed her opinion.
|Mit eurer Lebenserfahrung werdet ihr eine gute Entscheidung gemacht haben.
|With your life experience you will have made a good decision.
This is probably the most likely application of Future 2, you will come across.
Expressing future plans, intentions or assumptions is actually pretty straightforward in German. All you need to do is:
Future 2 is a bit more complicated, and even native speakers do not use it very often. But try to familiarize yourself with it, as it will aid your understanding and appreciation of the language.