German Future and Conditional Tenses

Today we are going to be looking at two German tenses, namely the future and conditional tenses in German. The future tense is when you say ‘will’ in English and the conditional tense ‘would’.

Future Tense

First let’s look at the future tense. You start by using the German equivalent of the word ‘will’, which in German varies depending on the person doing the action.

  • ich werde + infinitive = I will….
  • du wirst + infinitive = You will…. (informal & singular you)
  • er/sie/es wird + infinitive = He/She/It will….
  • wir werden + infinitive = We will….
  • ihr werdet + infinitive = You will…. (informal & plural you)
  • sie werden + infinitive = They will….
  • Sie werden + infinitive = You will…. (formal you)

You always follow this verb, when forming the future tense, with the infinitive form of the verb. The infinitive is the unaltered version of the verb that usually ends in ‘en’. Some examples using the future tense are:

  • ich werde machen = I will make
  • du wirst lesen = You will read (informal & singular you)
  • er/sie/es wird gehen = He/She/It will go
  • wir werden fahren = We will travel
  • ihr werdet sehen = You will see (informal & plural you)
  • sie werden schlafen = They will sleep
  • Sie werden essen = You will eat (formal you)

Conditional Tense

Now let’s look at the conditional tense. You start by using the German equivalent of the word ‘would, which varies depending on the person doing the action. They are as follows:

  • ich würde + infinitive = I would….
  • du würdest + infinitive = You would…. (informal & singular you)
  • er/sie/es würde + infinitive = He/She/It would….
  • wir würden + infinitive = We would….
  • ihr würdet + infinitive = You would…. (informal & plural you)
  • sie würden + infinitive = They would….
  • sie würden + infinitive = You would…. (formal you)

Just like the future tense, the German word for ‘would’ is followed by the infinitive. This is the verb form that usually ends in ‘en’ in German.

Examples of conditional tense sentences in German are as follows:

  • ich würde machen = I would make
  • du würdest lesen = You would read (informal & singular you)
  • er/sie/es würde gehen = He/She/It would go
  • wir würden fahren = We would travel
  • ihr würdet sehen = You would see (informal & plural you)
  • sie würden schlafen = They would sleep
  • Sie würden essen = You would eat (formal you)

Important point on word order with the Future and Conditional Tenses

One important point to note is that the default position for the infinitive (i.e. verb usually ending in ‘en’ e.g. ‘machen’ = ‘to make’) with these tenses is the end of the sentence. This means that any other information, generally, goes in the middle of the sentence. Examples of this are as follows:

  • Ich werde nach Deutschland fliegen. = I will fly to Germany. (= literally: ‘I will to Germany to fly‘)
  • Ich würde nach Deutschland fliegen. = I would fly to Germany. (= literally: ‘I would to German to fly‘)
  • Er wird Berlin besichtigen. = He will visit Berlin. (= literally: ‘He will Berlin to visit‘)
  • Er würde Berlin besichtigen. = He would visit Berlin. (= literally: ‘He would Berlin to visit‘)

There are exceptions to the word order above, which I would be happy to discuss over email or during tuition, but the above word order is used for straightforward sentences.

I hope the above has helped you to work out how to say ‘will’ and ‘would’ in German. If you have any questions feel free to contact me (link to contact page on menu above).

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