English has was/were going to construct for past future. Can wurde be used for the same purpose? It is used for passive voice in the past. Can it be used for active voice as well?


She was going to read a book.

English calls it past future but German uses tenses depending on the intent, not the relation of time frames. That's why this construct is rendered as

Sie wollte gerade ein Buch lesen.

"She wanted to read a book (but something interfered)."

Funny enough, there's the gerade in the German sentence which —as usually— seems to match the continous aspect of going but it's not continous in English (that would call for reading) nor in German. It's a particle modifying to be/wollen in both languages.


The future auxiliary werden only occurs in the present tense. There's lots of different ways to translate was going to, depending on the context.

I wasn't going to give up. (plan)
Ich hatte nicht vor aufzugeben.

I was going to help you but never mind. (counterfactual)
Ich hätte dir ja geholfen, aber vergiß es.

He knew it was going to rain soon. (indirect speech)
Er wußte, daß es bald regnen würde.

  • Die ersten beiden Beispiele lassen sich ebenso mit wollen übersetzen. – Janka Mar 2 '19 at 10:50

The english construct to be going to do something is typically translated to etwas vorhaben or etwas tun wollen. Some examples are:

I am going to visit Berlin.
→ Ich habe vor, Berlin zu besuchen.

I was just going to call you.
→ Ich wollte dich gerade anrufen.

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