Unit 8: Werden, Relative Clauses

1. The Verb Werden

This verb is one of the most important verbs in the German language to master because it has a range of quite different uses and meanings. Three are covered in this unit, another (passive voice) in the next unit, and another in Unit 15 (subjunctive). So it is important for you to practice distinguishing the different usages.

When used by itself as a simple, “full” verb, werden means “to become,” “to turn into,” or in colloquial English, “to get,” as in:

Wir werden nicht älter, wir werden nur besser.
We don’t get older, we just get better.

It has an irregular conjugation:

Present tense:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich werde wir werden
2nd du wirst ihr werdet
3rd er/sie/es wird sie/Sie werden

Simple past tense:

Person Singular Plural
1st ich wurde wir wurden
2nd du wurdest ihr wurdet
3rd er/sie/es wurde sie/Sie wurden

Perfect Tenses

Werden uses the auxiliary verb sein and the past participle geworden. Examples using the third person singular and plural are:

Present perfect:

Er ist alt geworden.
He has become old. / He became old.

Sie sind alt geworden.
They have become old. / They became old.

Past perfect:

Diese Maschine war zu alt geworden.
This machine had become too old.

Diese Maschinen waren zu alt geworden. 
These machines had become too old.


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