German Grammar – TENSES
The Future Tense 1
The future tense 1 is a curious tense.
Why? Because us Germans rarely use it to speak about the future. It is generally used for something else. But we’ll take it one step at a time for now.
Firstly let us speak about how you form sentences in the future tense.
Formation of the German Future Tense 1
The formation is pretty similar to how you would go about forming a sentence in the present perfect and pluperfect. In the “regular” verb position 2 we put a conjugated auxiliary verb. In this case we use the auxiliary verb “werden”. The verb that carries the meaning of the sentence moves from position 2 to the end of the sentence. It is put in its infinitive form.
Let me to demonstrate with the following example:
Present tense: Ich lerne Deutsch. (I learn/am learning German)
When we put the sentence into the future tense the following thing happens:
Please realize here how the original verb “lernen” now lies at the end of the sentence and that it is no longer conjugated. Conjugated verbs in a main clause ALWAYS take position 2. Instead, in this case the verb goes at the end of the sentence in the infinitive form.
In Position 2 you have the conjugated form of the auxiliary verb “werden”. In the example: (ich) werde.
The auxiliary verb “werden” is an irregular or strong verb. Its stem vowel changes, even when we conjugate it in the present tense. In the present tense!? Exactly! Yes, we use “werden” in order to form the future tense but the auxiliary verb itself stays in the present tense.
Here is a table for the auxiliary verb “werden”
Sure, we can use this tense when we’re talking about the future; Things like: “Nächstes Jahr werde ich Deutsch lernen”. (Next year I will learn German).
But this sounds somewhat dramatic. A story-teller would use such a sentence but in everyday life as a rule we use the present tense. So when we want to speak about the future we can say, “Nächstes Jahr lerne ich Deutsch”. This sentence is absolutely fine.
You should only use the future tense to talk about the future, when talking about serious events with serious consequences, so that our statement remains something of a prophecy. We can also make predictions. Here are a few examples:
- In 50 Jahren wird das Erdöl ausgehen. (In 50 years there will be no oil).
- In Deutschland wird es bald keine Kernenergie mehr geben. (Soon there won’t be any nuclear power in Germany).
- Wenn ich ihn das nächste Mal sehe, werde ich ihm gehörig die Meinung sagen! (Next time I see him I’ll tell him what I think loud and clear).
You can see here that we don‘t use such sentences as these that frequently in our everyday life. Instead, we usually use it for assumptions:
Mostly, we use the German future tense 1 to express assumptions
When we assume something or we think that it is that something is possible, we can say “Ich vermute, dass …” (I assume/suppose that…) or “Ich schätze, dass …”(I guess that…) and so on.
It is however, much more elegant if, instead of using these phrases, we simply use the future tense 1. Why? Because these sentences are too complicated. Specifically, they consist of a main clause and a subordinate clause. Here are some examples:
- Was macht Paul in Deutschland? Ich weiß nicht, ich vermute, dass er dort Deutsch lernt. (What’s Paul doing in Germany? I don’t know. I suppose that he learns German).
- Besser und eleganter geht es mit dem Futur 1: Ich weiß nicht, er wird Deutsch lernen. (I don’t know, I suppose, he learns German).
Both variations mean the same thing, but the second one is more simple, because we only require a simple main clause in order to express our assumption. Namely; “Er wird Deutsch lernen.” (He will learn German).
Often we also use the future tense 1, in order to express hopes. Often this is in combination with “nicht” (not) or with the modal particle “schon”. Here are some examples:
- Mach dir keine Sorgen; es wird schon nichts passieren. (Don’t worry, it‘ll be alright).
- Es wird schon alles gut gehen. (It will work out alright).
- Er wird schon auf sich aufpassen. (He´s smart enough to look after himself).
- Es wird morgen schon nicht regnen. (I´m confident it will not rain tomorrow).
Have I explained everything clearly? I hope that that you got the idea.
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