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According to what I've been reading about the expression Eines Tages, like here, it more or less translates and is used as one day, referring to past and future. But then, checking the Wiktionary, I found is translated as

someday (sometime; at some time in the future)

And in wordreference, it's translated as

eines Tages one day; zukünftig: auch some day

My question is, is it used also with past or only with future?

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In written German almost only past, see here. Possible, though, a sentence like "Eines Tages wolle er aber" which is "Konjunktiv Präsens with a future sense". In oral speech I guess future is much more common: "Eines Tages werde ich mal Millionär sein" –  Em1 Aug 3 '13 at 13:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

While is seems that "Eines Tages" can be used in the future or past, one should look at the context of the examples, where it is used for the past.

I will try to make my point using the same fairy tale as @Takkat [Grimms Märchen: Brüderchen und Schwesterchen][1]:

Eines Tages hörten sie Hundegebell.

The preceding sentence is:

Tief im Wald kamen sie an ein leerstehendes Haus. Dort lebten sie zufrieden.

This describes the status quo of the story. Then, at some time in the future from that moment, they hear barking dogs, and the story goes on.

While the whole incident was in the past, the sentence "Eines Tages" introduces a later event from that point of the story.

I don't know of any "present" use for "Eines Tages". Any present tense examples could get rephrased as future tense, indeed, "Eines Tages" implies that the event is meant to be in the future, which is common practice in German.

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Very good catch. I just compared with the occurrences in Online newspaper and there's no exception to what you just 'uncovered'. –  Em1 Aug 5 '13 at 7:23

The phrase "eines Tages" can be used with present, future, and past tense:

Examples:

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But of course the present is not really present. –  Em1 Aug 3 '13 at 17:01
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@Em1 is right... maybe "Eines Tages" can be used with present, past and the future form of a verb. Semantically, I think it is impossible to create an example that REALLY is present tense and has "eines Tages" in it. Maybe in textbooks or in stylistic novels –  Emanuel Aug 3 '13 at 19:32
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Well, it is the present tense gramatically. I edited the answer to also include this, as otherwise it would have been incomplete. Actually we can use "Eines Tages" with all tenses, including subjunctive, and passive mode. –  Takkat Aug 4 '13 at 5:30

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