6

In German there are 6 tenses as far as I know, but I always wonder how to describe very near future e.g.

I’ll be showing you (something) in this video.

What are the best words to tell the above sentence in German?

  • 3
    Present tense will normally do fine. Future tenses are rarely used in German. – chirlu Oct 8 '15 at 20:08
  • 4
    A hint: Try to translate your sentence using present. Then add gleich. – c.p. Oct 8 '15 at 20:19
  • Another hint: Please try to capitalise the first word in a sentence. – Jan Oct 8 '15 at 20:39
  • @Jan i'll try, no worry for that ;-) – Dragut Oct 8 '15 at 20:52
  • Ich zeige dir/euch/Ihnen das jetzt in diesem Video. or Ich werde dir/euch/Ihnen jetzt (etwas) in diesem Video zeigen. The word jetzt expresses a very near future if used in an announcement sentence. – Wolf Oct 9 '15 at 8:18
8

I’m afraid it’s not just a question about near or distant future. You go with present tense when you speak about a future event in a, say, neutral but assured way.

Ich bin sofort da.
Ich mache das gleich.
Heute abend geh ich früh schlafen.
Morgen räum ich die Garage auf.
Nächste Woche laufe ich einen Marathon.
In zwei Monaten fahre ich in Urlaub.
Nächstes Jahr ziehe ich nach Berlin.

The more distance is between now and the designated future time, the less likely it is that you can say for sure that it is going to happen. Also some things are not really determinable, even if it’s supposed to happen today or tomorrow.
Here Futur I comes into play. An assumption is made by using Futur I.

Heute abend wird es wahrscheinlich regnen.
Die VW-Aktien werden wohl in den nächsten Wochen drastisch fallen.
Er ist schon recht alt. Er wird wohl bald in Rente gehen.
In 10 Jahren werde ich genug Geld haben, um mir einen Porsche zu kaufen.

When you talk about plans or you make promises, Futur I is used, too.

Ich werde meine Oma morgen besuchen.
Ich werde mich nächste Woche um die Sache kümmern.
Er wird am Wochenende zu seiner Freundin nach Berlin fahren.
Er wird nächsten Monat nach Asien reisen.

In summary: Not the fact that you’re talking about today, tomorrow or next week is reason for going with present tense. It’s also a question about what you are really expressing. Promises, (perhaps undecided) plans, assumptions are expressed in Futur I, especially when they are less predictable or in the far future. Arrangements, including (decided) plans, are expressed in present tense, especially when they are very predictable and in the near future.

As you probably noticed, some of the examples above can also be expressed by using the other tense. The connotation may change slightly, or not at all. There’s just some degree of overlap where either tense is fine.

In respect to your example, both tenses can be fine and correct. Present tense is more likely, though.

  • Oah nee, wenn ich heute abend nach Hause muß, dann regnet es garantiert wieder! The assumption is marked by garantiert in my example, wohl in most of your examples, or not at all (context is king). It has nothing to do with the tense. – chirlu Oct 9 '15 at 8:12
  • @chirlu Ja... I can't argue against that off the top of the head, but there's something different. Not sure what it is. I mean, you are right it is an assumption, and though there's a lot of resoluteness in it. "garantiert", "wieder". Also the tone how you would say it. The statement is different to a mere assumption like "I think it will rain", it's more like "I know it's going to rain" (both fine in English). So, this kind of falls into the second to last paragraph of my answer. – Em1 Oct 9 '15 at 8:36
  • I can even say "Heute abend regnet es". Why? Because the weather forecast told me that. I rely on data. It's a fact now. — This and many other similar issues are reason for tenses being so complicated. And no textbook (and much less StackExchange) will ever have a full answer on when to use which language for each and every exception. – Em1 Oct 9 '15 at 8:39
  • As Em1 said, it's a question of the speaker's intent, rather than the circumstances. "Heute Abend wird es regnen" - It should be raining tonight, I wouldn't leave my dog out if I were you. "Heute Abend regnet es" - It's raining tonight, don't leave your dog outside. Subtle, but noticeable. As I heard once, German has two tenses: "Vergangenheit" and "Nicht-Vergangenheit". Futur I is just Präsens with an added twist. – Ledda Oct 9 '15 at 10:01
3

Technically German has a future tense and sometimes it is even used. Not really colloquially, however.

In everyday usage, any type of future unless it’s very distant is described using the present tense. Compare the following examples:

Ich zeig dir gleich was in dem Video. (your example sentence)

Morgen gehen wir wandern.

Nächste Woche habe ich Urlaub.

Nächsten Monat habe ich Zeit für dich.

Ab nächstem Semester werde ich in Braunschweig studieren.

Note how far I went before I considered using werde, the ‘official’ future tense. Of course, one could still mark the studying example with present tense and one could mark the hiking example in future. It’s not strict in any way. However, I would prefer to use the present tense most of the time.

  • 1
    I don't remember how many times i've said that word "gleich", but i hadn't mind it so far, as seen it is actually lifesaver i think – Dragut Oct 8 '15 at 21:00
  • 1
    Funny enough, I'd still say "Ab nächstem Semester studiere ich in Braunschweig", except I'd add "voraussichtlich" to the sentence, i.e. I'm not entirely sure about that yet. – Em1 Oct 9 '15 at 7:22
  • And on the other hand "Morgen werde ich ..." is equally fine. "Ich verspreche dir, dass ich das morgen machen werde." – Em1 Oct 9 '15 at 7:25
  • @Em1 Ich gebe zu, dass ich das auf Gutdeutsch »hingerotzt« habe. Ich hab den letzten Satz ein bisschen ausgebaut. Ich weiß nicht, ob ich damit deine Einwände entkräftet habe oder nicht. (Und falls nicht, seis drum ;)) – Jan Oct 9 '15 at 9:17
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    Ich wollte nie die "Richtigkeit" anzweifeln. "Weißt du schon, was du morgen machst?" und "Weißt du schon, was du nach dem Bachelor machen wirst?" sind für mich gefühlt natürlich, weil das eine eben morgen, dass andere irgendwann ist. Aber wie in meiner Antwort diskutiert, ist für mich ja nicht die nahe oder ferne Zukunft der wirkliche Grund, sondern ein anderer Aspekt, der mehr oder weniger in Korrelation dazu steht. Deine Antwort konnte leicht den Glauben vermitteln, dass aber eben wohl nur der Zeitpunkt Kriterium ist. – Em1 Oct 9 '15 at 9:35

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