Talking about the past in the future in German – das Futur II

Das Futur II

Talking about the past in the future in German – das Futur II

When it comes to talking about the future in German, the abstract ideas are best left to Germany’s great philosophers. German speakers, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, are more likely to formulate the future more simply. In fact, German allows one to express events in the future using the present simple plus the time that the action will take place. Don’t complicate things by trying to do direct translation from English to German. Let’s look at an example:

English: I’m going to meet some friends in the pub tomorrow after work.

Direct Translation: Ich bin gehen zu treffen einige Freunde in der Kneipe morgen nach der Arbeit. (terrible – three verbs?? Why?!)

Correct Translation: Morgen nach der Arbeit treffe ich mich mit Freunden in der Kneipe. (one verb in the present simple + time = perfect).

Of course you can also make your intention more explicit by using the werden + infinitive construction, though in spoken this is not usually used.

Grammatically correct but not idiomatic: Morgen nach der Arbeit werde ich mich mit Freunden in der Kneipe treffen.

How was that for a review? Answer the questions at the end of this post to see if you can still remember.

That’s all fair and good you might think, but sometimes we talk about the past in the future. Das Futur II is the topic of today’s post. This is some advanced stuff, but easy enough to master and start using. Once you do you’ll be able to work for a Boulevard paper like Bild Zeitung or Der Blick and report on things that may or may not have happened now or in the future.

When do we use the Futur II?

  • When we make an assumption based on current evidence
  • When talking about an action in the future that will have been completed at the time you are talking about. (See diagram).

A few examples might help to illustrate this even better. Say there’s a marathon going on in your city and you see someone walking near the finish line looking exhausted (erschoepft), the person is wearing shorts and t-shirt as well. Based on the evidence, you might believe that he ran the marathon, though you are not 100% sure. In German you might say:

  • Er wird wohl den Marathon gelaufen sein. (He must have run the marathon.)

It’s an assumption. You could go and ask and have him verify your assumption, in which case you would use the Perfekt tense: “Er ist den Marathon gelaufen.

The other time you’ll want to use this structure would be for something like the following. Say you’re running a marathon tomorrow, and your friend asks you to meet them for lunch. The marathon starts at 8:30am and you know you’ll finish in less than 3.5 hours. So with shower and everything you could do lunch at 12:30. In that case you would tell your friend:

  • Bis dann werde ich den Marathon gelaufen sein und mich geduscht haben. (By then I’ll have run the marathon and showered.)

Structure of the Futur II

Now that you have an idea of when we use this special future form, it might help to know exactly how we build it.

Remember the Perfekt, our favourite way of speaking about the past? Well, here again you need to remember it, because the Futur II is essentially werden + Perfekt. This means you need to remember which verbs take haben and which take sein.

Visually it looks like this:



Partizip II

haben / sein

Er / Sie / Eswirdgefahrensein
Sie / siewerdeneingekaufthaben

**Note, the only verb you are conjugating is werden.

Anders gesagt:

futur 2

Typical Sentence Structures:

Standard sentence:

Subject + werden + Mittelfeld + Partizip Perfekt + haben/sein.

  •  Ich werde das bis dann gemacht haben. (I’ll have done that by then.)

Yes/No Question:

Werden + subject + Mittelfeld Partizip Perfekt + haben/sein.

  • Wirst du das bis dann gemacht haben? (Will you have done that by then?)

Information Question:

Interrogative + werden + subject + Mittelfeld + Partizip Perfekt + haben/sein.

  • Woher werden sie die Informationen bis dann bekommen haben? (From where will they have received the information by then?)

In a subordinating clause:

Main clause (Hauptsatz), subordinating conjunction + subject + Mittelfeld + Partizip Perfekt + haben/sein + werden.

  • Bald werden sie mehr davon wissen, weil sie das Buch gelesen haben werden. (They’ll soon know more about it, because they will have read the book.)

Important to remember:

When we use the Futur II to make an assumption, we use one of these words: wohl, sicher, schon or bestimmt. These all carry the same connotation and may vary from region to region.


  • Wo ist Tanja?
    • Sie wird sicher schon nach Hause gegangen sein.
  • Warum weint das Kind?
    • Es wird bestimmt vom Rad gestuerzt sein.

Review of Futur I & Futur II:

1. What do you need to express future events in German?

  • Present Simple + Time

2. When do we use the werden + infinitive construct?

  • To be explicit about intent (usually in written German)

3. What form do we use for expressing an assumption of an incidence based on evidence?

  • We use the Futur I

4. When we make an assumption using Futur I, we should use one of three words. What are they?

  • wohl, bestimmt, sich

5. Apart from making assumptions, when do we use Futur I?

  • For talking about an event that will have been completed at the time being described in the future.

6. Which form do we use to talk about the event that has just happened when we are in the future point we were talking about in question 5?

  • We use the perfect form.


Create sentences in Futur II with the following – remember to conjugate werden and put the other verb into its perfect form:

1. Paul & Tina /gehen/schon/nach Hause

2. wir/fragen/gar nicht/sie

3. Meike/liegen/am Strand/die ganze Zeit

4. Bis dahin/ich/aufwachen/schon wieder

5. Bis zum Wochenende/ihr/lernen/das Lied/auswendig

Write questions in Futur II:

1. Roland/umsteigen/am richtigen Bahnhof /?

2. die Sekretärin/schreiben/den Brief/bis morgen/?

3. unsere Nachbarin/annehmen/unser Paket/?

4. du/bestehen/alle Prüfungen/bis Ende Mai/?

5. wie weit/wir/laufen/wohl schon/?


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