The Future Tenses (and Futuristic Present)

The basic future tense in German is the Futur I; it’s formed with the present tense of the verb werden (given in section V.3) and the infinitive of the main verb. We do the same thing in English with will:

Ich werde dort ein Hotel suchen.
I will look for a hotel there.

Ich werde das Geschirr spülen.
I will do the dishes. [literally, spülen is more like "rinse"]

To form the Futur II (future perfect), use werden + past participle + haben/sein. Again it's similar in English: will have. The only difference is that, as always in German, the non-conjugated verbs move to the end of the clause:

Wenn ihr ankommt werde ich ein Hotel gefunden haben.
By the time you arrive, I will have found a hotel.

Bis heute Abend werde ich das Geschirr gespült haben.
By this evening, I will have done the dishes.

In English we also have the more casual form "I’m going to..." to replace "I will..." This form does not exist in German, so don’t try to translate it literally: Ich gehe zu [verb] would not make sense. Just use werden instead.*

The futuristic present (Futuristisches Präsens) refers to a tendency in both languages to use the present tense for future events. In English we do this in two main situations: when we have arranged to do something in the near future ("I’m going to the movies tomorrow") and when referring to an action that will take place according to a fixed (usually printed) schedule or timetable ("The train leaves in half an hour"). German also uses the present tense for these situations:

Meine Freundin besucht mich nächstes Wochenende.
My girlfriend visits [is visiting] me next weekend.

Der Zug fährt in 10 Minuten ab.
The train departs in ten minutes.

(Note that we often use the progressive aspect in these situations -- "is visiting" -- which doesn’t exist in German.)

There are a few situations where German uses the futuristic present and English does not. The most important is an offer or promise to do something:

German (Präsens):
Literal English (present):
Correct English (future):
Ich zahle es dir morgen zurück.
I pay you back tomorrow.
I’ll pay you back tomorrow.
Ich hole dir eine Jacke.
I get you a jacket.
I’ll get you a jacket.

There’s another case where use of the present is optional: predictions or speculation. In the case of speculation, we usually use may/might/maybe in English, and German uses vielleicht (perhaps):

German (Präsens):
German (Futur I):
English (future):
Morgen regnet es.
Morgen wird es regnen.
Tomorrow it will rain.
Vielleicht gehe ich nächste Woche.
Vielleicht werde ich nächste Woche gehen.
I may go [Maybe I’ll go] next week.

*(To be more specific: the verb phrase “going to” in English usually means that a future event is already planned or expected (“I’m going to do my homework later”) rather than the announcement of a decision (“I’ll do my homework later”). In German, “going to” will often have werden, or possibly schon or noch. Ich werde meine Hausaufgaben später machen; Ich mache meine Hausaufgaben schon/noch. But an announcement is in the futuristic present: Ich mache meine Hausaufgaben später.)