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17 The 3 German "werdens"

There are three ways in which the verb werden can be used in German, all equally useful:

Photo source: Christian Lue, via Unsplash

1. To become

Werden means "to become" or "get" when it functions as an actual verb in its own right.

Es wird kalt It’s getting cold

Das Brot ist steinhart geworden* The bread turned/became as hard as stone

The past participle of werden (become) is geworden. Look below to see how this is different for werden (passive).

2. As an auxiliary verb

It is the auxiliary verb to use for the future tense. In the same way that haben and sein are used in the past tense.

Es wird Regen geben It’s going to rain / It will rain

Wir werden sehen We’ll see

3. To form the passive

The passive is used when the person doing the action is less important than the action itself. You can sometimes use “man” for the same function, and whilst this is more common than using one in English, the passive can sound more formal, elegant.

Ich wurde in London geboren. I was born in London.

Die Häuser werden weihnachtlich geschmückt The houses are decorated for Christmas.

Bist du schon geimpft worden*? Have you been vaccinated yet/already?

The past participle of werden (passive) is worden. See above for how it is different for werden (become).

It sounds strange to have two “werdens” in the same sentence, so one can be dropped, when the meaning is clear:

Sie wird eine gute Tennisspielerin She will become a good tennis player

Du wirst dick, wenn du nur Kuchen isst You’ll get fat if you only eat cake

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