Introduction to the Meanings of the German verb “werden”

January 21, 2023

“Werden” is a verb and has several very different functions and meanings in German that can sometimes lead to confusions.

If you ever were confused about it or just never really learned its different uses – here you go!

The Forms of “werden”

ich werde wir werden

du wirst ihr werdet

er/sie/es wird sie werden

Basic Idea

„Werden“ is a verb that is used with other verbs to build certain forms (similar to “haben” for example), but it is ALSO its own verb with different meanings. It is used to build the future, to build the passive and as a verb to show a development to a certain quality or state.

OK, lets look at it:

Used to Show the Future

Together with another verb, werden is used to speak about the future.

Morgen werde ich arbeiten. Tomorrow I will work.

Sie wird am Abend schlafen. She will sleep in the evening.

Wir werden glücklich sein. We will be happy.

Used to Build the Passive.

Together with the “3rd form” of the verb (gekauft, gefunden, verloren…) it is used to build the passive. Passive is used when you want to put attention on the action happening and not the person doing it.

Der Kuchen wird von Mama gebacken. The cake is baked by Mama.

Die Blumen werden jeden Tag gegossen. The flowers are watered every day.

 

These sentences you can put in other tenses. Examples:

Present: Der Kuchen wird von Mama gebacken. The cake is baked by Mama.

Past: Der Kuchen wurde von Mama gebacken. The cake was baked by Mama.

Future: Der Kuchen wird von Mama gebacken werden. The cake will be baked by Mama.

In this sentence you have “werden” two times. One time (here in the form of “wird”) showing the passive.

Der Kuchen wird von Mama gebacken.

If you end the sentence here it is present. It is happening now. If you want to put it in the future (she is baking the cake tomorrow for example), we need to use “werden”, right – as this is how we build future. And therefore we have:

Der Kuchen wird von Mama gebacken werden.

Means to get a certain quality

In this sense, “werden” is used with an adjective and it would be translated as “become”.

Er möchte reich werden. He wants to become rich.

Sie wird wütend. She becomes angry. (Or: She she is becoming angry). This means that she is changing from the condition of not being angry to the condition of being angry.

And in this sense also the sentences can be put in all tenses. And when used in the future, you will get “werden” or a form of it twice in the sentence. Let’s look at an example:

Present: Sie wird wütend. She becomes angry.

Past: Sie wurde wütend. She became angry.

Future: Sie wird wütend werden. She will become angry.

I was asked why not “Sie wird wütend sein”. This is a completely valid sentence which has a slightly different meaning. It is the future of “Sie ist wütend”. The difference is that “Sie wird wütend werden” is the future of “Sie wird wütend” and emphasizes the change from not angry to angry.

Additional Informations about the Word.

Werden is one of the most frequently used words in the German language and probably the most frequently verb of all. This article will be helpful for you when you are an intermediate student of the German language, however “werden” has even more meanings. At some point you should visit the word again and learn all of the meanings in detail.

Foto Susanne Schilk-Blümel

von Susi

I am Susi and was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. I originally trained to be an English teacher and a trainer in the United States, at Applied Scholastics in Missouri. Soon after I started teaching back in Vienna, people were also interested in learning German. So after some time I started teaching German with the same succesful method I already used in teaching English. In the meantime I only teach German online What I want to do on this website is to help as many German learners as possible by giving them information that will enable them to learn German better, motivate them and figure out why they are having troubles.

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