to become, to turn
Opposite (closest): sein
(helper verb for future)
to be, to get
(helper verb for passive)

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The meaning of "werden"

"werden" means "to become". And it builds the future. And the passive. OMG. Today, we'll find out all about it. Also: 'become' and 'bekommen' explained :).

Word of the Day - "werden - Future and Passive"

We'll explore why the verb "werden" is used for future AND passive voice and how to do it. Also: a really peculiar feature of German passive voice.

Style Special - "Facial expressions"

A fun overview over facial expressions in German. We'll go over all kinds of things that you can do with your face with lots of examples.


lachen, lächeln, der Mund, die Augen, blinzeln, hochnäsig, rümpfen, runzeln

False Friends Explained - "bekommen vs become"

Word Family tap to show/hide

Root: *wer-

This is one of several roots that had at their core the idea of:

turning, winding, bending

The most obvious English offspring are words like worm, warp, weird, wrestle, wrist and more (see below).

But also -ward, worry, worth and wrong belong to the family, each with their own… ahem… twist on the original sense.

But the root is also the origin of the Latin verb *vertere. This verb meant to bend and it’s the origin of dozens of words like versus, vertebra, invert, subvert, versatile and me … I mean… introvert.

The three most important relatives in German are werden (“turning toward, winding up” -> to become), der Wert (“what you give versus what you get” -> worth) and werfen (“winding motion with your hand”- to throw).

Here’s an (incomplete) list of English relatives and how they tie in with the original sense:

  • -ward (“winding in a direction”)
  • warp 
  • weird (“twisted”)
  • worm, vermin
  • wrestle, wrist (“winding, bending”)
  • wrinkle, wriggle, wrangle,… (all about “twisting” in some way)
  • wrong (originally “twisting your mouth”)
  • worry (originally “to strangle the throat”)
  • worth (originally what you give “versus” something else)
  • versus (“turn toward”)
  • version (“what you turn out, rendition”)
  • vertebra (“what bends”)
  • versatile (“turns in many directions”)
  • invert (“turn backward”)
  • convert (“to turn to”)
  • extrovert (“turned outward”)
  • introvert (me)
  • pervert (“turned beyond”)
  • subvert (Star Wars expectations)
  • anniversary (“turn of the year”)
  • universe (all wrapped in one)
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2 months ago

I noticed ward and wardst given as an options for präteritum in Duden. Not sure I’ve ever encountered this elsewhere. Is it an old spelling or something ?

2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

The me personally, I always thought of this as a form of “war” not “werden”. But the result is the same in this example. Yes, I can see how you might think this. This is an interesting overlap somehow…

2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I did have to go and check up the etymology of werden up just to be sure there wasn’t some weird connection between ward and war, cus that would make total sense.

I’m sure i had similar experiences but i can’t think of any exactly like that off the top of my head…

I know that for a while (probably aged 6 or 7 or something) I was reading the word “stomach”
and made no connection to the word “stomach” I’d heard many times. But thats english spelling for you.

I’m sure you know this already right?


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