I am combining my previous posts to this question. My comments were not notified with right tags to the people who answered my questions, so I deleted comments and I am creating new question here. This was the question I asked earlier and the response by Goerky is really appreciable.

wird and ist

After reading the examples, I have one doubt here:

Der Koffer wurde gepackt. (The suitcase was packed) (Past)

Here, “wurde” is the Präteritum form of the verb “werden”? Why don't we write it in the past tense as follows:

Der Koffer war gepackt. The suitcase was packed.

Are we using the same conjugation for all those examples mentioned on this link?

Indikativ Präsens werden

ich werde
du wirst
er/sie/es wird
wir werden
ihr werdet sie werden

With pronouns only the respective conjugations of werden(will) is used for future :

I will= Ich werde
he/she/it will =er/sie/es wird

But, when used with noun, we should use the “wird=be” from “sein” conjugation add infinitive “werden=will” along with main verb in the sentence?

Futur Sein

ich werde sein
du wirst sein
er/sie/es wird sein
wir werden sein
ihr werdet sein
sie werden sein

Der Koffer wird gepackt werden. (The suitcase will be packed) (Future)

Now, here my confusion lies , which “wird” is it? So, when I talk about pronouns, it will be conjugation of werden and when I talk about nouns being in action then it is conjugation of sein?

As my similar question was combined with another question by a different user

Things get confusing after comparing both the answers on these two links.

First link shows:

Der Koffer ist gepackt worden. (The suitcase has been packed) (Past Perfect)

Second link shows:

Die Fee wurde von den Kindern gefangen. The fairy has been caught by the children. (Vorgangspassiv)

Here what is the conclusion as in the meaning of has been?

has been = ist worden or wurde

  • Without going into any detail (hence just a comment): "Der Koffer wurde gepackt" - the suitcase was (in the past) in the process of being packed. "Der Koffer war gepackt" - the suitcase was (in the past) in a state of having been fully packed. Both are valid, but have a very slightly different meaning. Colloquially they are pretty much interchangeable, because both imply that presently, the suitcase is in a fully packed state. "Der Koffer wird gepackt werden" should correctly be translated to "The suitcase will be being packed" - at a point in the future, the suitcase is currently being packed Nov 15, 2021 at 9:48
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    Much of your question seems to be just about whether "werden" or "sein" should be used, and using different tenses just complicates it, you could use the present tense for all examples.
    – Carsten S
    Nov 15, 2021 at 12:41

2 Answers 2


Yes, werden is complex and I think part of the problem is you're trying to conflate it with "to be/was", which is equally complex but in a different way. It's best to untangle this by looking at the various uses of werden; it's often better to describe the meanings of German words independently rather then to try to match them with English words. But first, it should be noted that the sentence "The suitcase was packed," has two meanings. There is the passive meaning, saying that someone packed the suitcase without mentioning who. And there is also the descriptive meaning, saying that the suitcase was full of clothes etc. The two meanings in English have different translations in German, one with wurde and the other with war.

By itself, werden means "to become" or "to turn", in other words to transition from a state of not being something to a state of being something. The most common translation in English is "to get", at least in informal situations. For example:

  • Er wird wütend. – "He's getting angry."
  • Ich werde Arzt. – "I'm becoming a doctor."
  • Meine Haare werden grau. – "My hair is turning grey."

In the (simple) past test these become:

  • Er wurde wütend. – "He got angry."
  • Ich wurde Arzt. – "I became a doctor."
  • Meine Haare wurden grau. – "My hair turned grey."

Grammatically, this sense of werden is similar to sein since they are both copulative verbs, meaning they are both used to describe something with an adjective or noun. The descriptive sense of "The suitcase was packed," uses the past tense of "to be", which says the suitcase was in a certain state, that of being full of clothes. So in German this is simply Der Koffer ist gepackt, but in the past tense Der Koffer war gepackt.

There are also two ways that werden can be used as an auxiliary verb, meaning a verb that combines with a special form of another verb. Two auxiliary verbs in English are "to be" and "to have". For example when you combine them with the verb "to eat" you get "I am eating" (progressive tense) and "I have eaten" (perfect tense). Keep in mind that tenses and other verb forms usually don't correspond between languages; there is no progressive tense in German and while German does have a perfect tense, it's used differently than in English. You have to learn a set of circumstances where each tense or verb form is used, with different sets of circumstances used in each language.

One use of werden as an auxiliary verb is to form the future tense. In English this is normally done with "will" or "shall". In this case werden is combined with the infinitive of the other verb, and the infinitive is placed at the end of the sentence. In German the auxiliary verb is always conjugated, in contrast to English where "will" and "shall" aren't. When the infinitive is sein you get the various forms listed in the question. For example:

  • Ich werde frei sein. – "I shall be free."
  • Naomi wird Ärztin sein. – "Naomi will be a doctor."

This can be a bit confusing since werden in it's "become" meaning and sein are similar in both meaning and grammar. The wird in Naomi wird Ärztin, is the "become" meaning; "Naomi is becoming a doctor". Meanwhile the wird in Naomi wird Ärztin sein, is the "will/shall" meaning. The only difference is the sein at the end, but that changes the grammar which in turn changes the entire meaning of the sentence. Note that there is nothing to prevent werden from combining with itself in it's other meaning:

  • Naomi wird Ärztin werden. – "Naomi will become a doctor."

The other use of werden as an auxiliary verb is to form the passive voice. (As RHa points out, German has two forms of passive voice. I prefer to call the one with werden the "true passive" and the other one the "false or ersatz passive".) English forms the passive voice by combining the auxiliary verb "to be" and the past participle of another verb. In addition, the subject in the non-passive form is dropped and the direct object becomes the new subject. For example "I'm giving the child a toy," becomes "The child is being given a toy." The process in German is similar except that the auxiliary verb is werden. This does not imply werden means "to be", in fact auxiliary verbs don't really have meaning; they are just a mechanism to create certain tenses and forms of other verbs. For example:

  • Ich schenke dem Kind ein Spielzeug. – "I'm giving the child a toy."
  • Dem Kind wird ein Spielzeug geschenkt. – "The child is being given a toy."

Note that this wird has nothing to do with either the future tense wird or the "become" wird, but the only way to tell which one is meant is to look at the structure of the rest of the sentence. If the sentence ends with an infinitive then it's probably the future tense. If the sentence ends with a past participle then it's probably the passive voice. If the sentence ends with an adjective or noun then it's probably the "become" meaning. The passive voice can be combined with the past tense by putting the conjugated form of werden in the past tense. Hence:

  • Dem Kind wurde ein Spielzeug geschenkt. – "The child was given a toy."

The sentence Die Fee wurde von den Kindern gefangen, is in the passive voice, but the subject of the original sentence has been re-added using the preposition von. So:

  • Die Kinder fangen die Fee. – "The children catch the fairy." (present tense)
  • Die Fee wird gefangen. – "The fairy is being caught." (passive voice, someone is catching the fairy)
  • Die Fee ist gefangen. – "The fairy is caught." (ersatz passive voice, the state of the fairy is that she is in captivity)
  • Die Fee wurde gefangen. – "The fairy was caught." (passive voice, past tense)
  • Die Fee wurde von den Kindern gefangen – "The fairy was caught by the children." (adding "the children" back in)

You might think it's odd to remove the subject by using the passive voice only to add it back in again, but this is possible in both German and English because there is a difference between the two versions. This has to do with keeping "the fairy" the center of attention. This passive form tells you what happened to the fairy while the active form tells you what the children did.

To reiterate something covered in RHa's answer, the various tenses and voices and the different meanings of werden have nothing to do with whether a pronoun or other noun appears in a sentence. For the most part, you can simply replace a noun with a pronoun in a sentence with no additional changes. German word order prefers that pronouns do not appear at the beginning or end of a sentence, but the words themselves will remain unchanged. In general, a "noun phrase" is a combination of words that refer to a thing or person, or group of things or people. They can be any degree of complexity from er to der glückliche junge Mann, der mit einem schönen Mädchen tanzt, and they are almost always interchangeable with respect to grammar as long as you keep the same number and gender. There are, of course, exceptions to this principle, but they don't occur here.

  • I appreciate the time you have spent to write such lengthy answer with detailed explanations which has covered up my doubts asked in the question along with other doubts I had related to sein & werden in mind. I will re-read it again and I hope I don't come with any more questions as your response is pretty much helpful for me :) Nov 16, 2021 at 10:12
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    @Noisha Studieren: No problem. I'm a learner myself and I find that writing out such explanation is helpful for me; as the saying goes, you don't truly understand something until you've explained it to someone else. Plus I learn a lot from comments and corrections from the native speakers here. I was worried that the answer was a bit TLDR, so it's nice to know this level of detail is useful.
    – RDBury
    Nov 16, 2021 at 17:57

Unlike many other languages (like English), German does not have one passive but two. You may already know about this fact (it was mentioned in one answer to your previous question), but it cannot be stressed enough because I think it's the main source of your confusion.

The first (Vorgangspassiv) uses werden and describes an action. The second (Zustandspassiv) uses sein and describes a state.

So if you ask "Why do we use Der Koffer wurde gepackt instead of Der Koffer war gepackt?", the answer is: The first sentence uses Vorgangspassiv and is about a suitcase being packed whereas the second sentence is about a suitcase which already has been packed.

Another possible source of confusion is that werden as an auxiliary verb can have two functions: It can be used for the future tense or for the passive (Vorgangspassiv).

This has nothing to do with nouns or pronouns. Werden + infinitive is future tense, and werden + perfect participle is passive:

Ich werde gesehen. (Passive: I am seen.)

Ich werde sehen. (Future: I will see.)

Der Koffer wird gepackt. (Passive: The suitcase is packed.)

Der Koffer wird gut aussehen. (Future: The suitcase will look good.)

The two functions of werden can both appear in a single sentence:

Der Koffer wird gepackt werden. (The suitcase will be packed.)

Here, the first occurrence of werden (wird) serves as an auxiliary verb for the future tense, and the second (werden) serves as an auxilliary verb for the passive.

  • Thank you for making it clear for me along with grammatical terms and examples . Nov 16, 2021 at 9:54

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