Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

One of the things I've been struggling with as a relative newcomer to German is when to use the future tense. It appears that, as in Russian, there isn't a lot of circumstances in which one would use the future tense, as opposed to the present tense with temporal indication.

However, are there circumstances in which it would be appropriate to say or write

Ich werde nächste Woche nach Boston fahren.

instead of

Ich fahre nächste Woche nach Boston.

Is this a difference between Umgangssprache versus Standardsprache? Or are there other rules at work? Would it be okay to just say:

Ich werde nach Boston fahren.

and omit the temporal indication altogether?

share|improve this question
    
In addition to the answers, I would point out that this is one of those times when German matches English. You can say, "I am traveling to Boston next week" or "I am going to travel..." or "I will travel..." all to mean a future event (note that "I travel to Boston next week" is used less often and usually only as a definitive statement). This has the same feel and usage in German. –  Kevin Feb 29 '12 at 7:29
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Ich werde nach Boston fahren.

That's totally fine. You need no temporal indicator like "nächste Woche", "werden" is expressing that it will be in the future. Just be prepared for the question:

Wann?

Both sentences are correct:

Ich werde nächste Woche nach Boston fahren.
Ich fahre nächste Woche nach Boston.

You could say, that the first one is "more correct" than the second, because of the future tense, but it does not really matter for one single sentence/statement.

Using the future tense is more common in cases where you express the difference to past tense or present tense:

Gestern war ich in Florenz, heute fliege ich noch nach Rom und nächste Woche werde ich nach Boston fahren.

But even here it is also possible to just say:

... und nächste Woche fahr ich nach Boston.

Most people are more accurate in written language than in spoken one, so you will read "werden" more often than you hear it. Probably pretty much the same in Russian :)

A subtle thing is that "werden" is used in spoken language for emphasizing your infuriation when having an argument. That sounds a little bit odd, but I do not know how to phrase it better. An example:

"Dir werd ich helfen!"

A typical expression during a dispute. It does not mean, that you will help someone at all. You are angry and you want to stop someone from doing something, more like:

Stop this or bear the consequences!

So you are more "helping" bearing the consequences.

Other examples:

Ich werd dir jetzt mal was sagen ...
You will now listen to me ...

Ich werde jetzt Essen machen und du räumst solange diesen Saustall auf.
I will prepare the food and you will clean up this mess.

As I said, this is used in disputes. I cannot say why, but

Ich sag dir jetzt mal was ...
Ich mache Essen und du ...

just do not sound angry enough :)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Both variants using present tense and future tense are correct:

Ich fahre nächste Woche nach Boston.
Ich werde nächste Woche nach Boston fahren.

At least in colloquial German but also in written text you will hear the present tense more often (likely because it is a word less).

But it will not work if we don't have a definite time we refer to:

Ich fahre nach Boston.

This can mean both, future ("I will travel to Boston"), and present ("I am about to travel to Boston"). To avoid this confusion we prefer to use future tense and say

Ich werde nach Boston fahren.

This is also the case when answering a question where a time was defined:

"Was machst Du morgen?" will be answered with "Ich fahre nach Boston"
"Was machst Du?" will then be answered with "Ich werde nach Boston fahren"

This rule of thumb holds true for many examples including the nice everyday's expressions given in the previous answer:

"Dir werde ich helfen!" - "Dir helfe ich gleich!"

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.