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Dartmouth German
  Studies Department

The Future Tense in English:

English forms the future tense in several ways:

1) by using the progressive present tense when the context makes the future meaning clear:

"I'm seeing her tomorrow."
"We're taking the test on Friday."

2) by combining the verbs "will" or, less frequently, "shall" with the infinitive, not including "to":

"I will do it tomorrow."
"We shall see."

3) by combining the verb "to go" in the progressive present form with the infinitive, including "to":

"I am going to pay you back when I get my allowance."
"Someday she's going to get her comeuppance."

The future tense can also indicate a present likelihood:

"You'll surely be surprised by what I just said."
"She will probably be wondering what has delayed us."
"Boys will be boys."

English has a future perfect tense to talk about a past event from the perspective of the future:

"I will have finished the paper by Monday."
"By the time you get this letter I will have gone to Rio."

The future perfect tense is also used to indicate a past likelihood, one that has consequences for the present or future:

"As you will have already heard, the gym will be closed today"
"You will have noticed that we no longer have a convertible."

  Your parents will puke!

The Future Tense in German:

Like English, German can talk about future events in the present tense when the context is clear:

Wir essen heute Abend in der Küche. We're eating in the kitchen tonight.
Wir sehen uns morgen. We're meeting tomorrow.
Er macht das erst Samstag. He's not doing that until Saturday.

Otherwise German uses the auxiliary verb "werden" with the infinitive:

Sie wird dir alles sagen. She'll tell you everything.
In zehn Jahren werde ich zu alt sein. In ten years, I'll be too old.
Die Kinder werden das nicht sehen wollen. The children won't want to see that.

Like English, German can also express present probability with the future tense, often in combination with adverbs such as "bestimmt" (certainly), "sicher" (certainly), "vielleicht" (perhaps), "wahrscheinlich" (probably), or "wohl" (probably):

Die Kinder werden wohl schon zu Hause sein. The children will probably already be home.
Du wirst uns vielleicht besuchen wollen. You will perhaps want to visit us.
Er wird jetzt bestimmt vorm Fernseher sitzen. He'll surely be sitting in front of the television now.

The Future Perfect Tense in German (Futur II):

Like English, German has a future perfect tense that is used to talk about what will in the future be a past event. It is constructed by putting the auxiliary verb of the perfect tense ("haben" or "sein") into a future form:

Bevor wir nach Hause kommen, werden sie alles aufgegessen haben. Before we get home they will have eaten everything up.
Sie wird schon weggegangen sein. She will have already gone.
Werden Sie das gemacht haben, bevor wir Sie abholen? Will you have already done that before we pick you up?

The future perfect can also express a past probability:

Sie werden das sicher gründlich gelesen haben. You will surely have read that thoroughly.
Er wird das wohl gewusst haben. He probably will have known that.
Du wirst das bestimmt schon gehört haben. You will certainly have already heard that.