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“Wollen” Conjugation: Learn How to Conjugate the German Verb “Wollen” in All Tenses

“Wollen” is a commonly used German verb that means “to want.” It’s one of the most important verbs that all German language learners will have to master sooner rather than later. After all, people always want something. Whether you want your friend to call you, or you want to understand which ice cream your roommate wants you to pick up, one thing is for sure – you’ll need to know the “wollen” conjugation to get by in all those conversations.

In this post, we’re going to look at how to conjugate “wollen” in all tenses. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to the verb, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started!

What You Need to Know About “Wollen”

I’ve already explained that the verb “wollen” means “to want” in German. But there’s always more to it when it comes to German grammar, isn’t there? Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the “wollen” conjugation:

  • “Wollen” can be used to talk about anything you want. It doesn’t just have to be material objects. If you want coffee, you can use “wollen.” But you can also use this verb if you want a holiday, or if you really want to go dancing.
  • “Wollen” is a modal verb. You may already know that most of the time, modal verbs are followed by another verb in the infinitive form – for example, “ich kann Deutsch sprechen” (= “I can speak German”). However, “wollen” does not always take a verb. As I said, you can want all sorts of things – like a nice biscuit (“ein Keks”), which is a noun, not a verb.
  • “Wollen” is an irregular verb. This means that you will, unfortunately, have to memorise the “wollen” conjugation. There is no going around it.

Those are the main things you need to know. Now, let’s get to business – here is how to conjugate “wollen” in German.

“Wollen” Conjugation in Present Tense (Präsens)

The present tense is the most basic tense. It’s what most learners start with when they encounter a new verb.

When it comes to the “wollen” conjugation in the present tense, there are a couple of things to look out for:

  1. In the singular, the “o” in “wollen” changes to “i.”
  2. As with many irregular verbs, the first and third person in the singular take the same form. In this case, it’s “will.” Do not try to add an extra ending. Saying, for example, “er willt” would be wrong.


ich will I want
du willst you want
er/sie/es will he/she/it wants


wir wollen we want
ihr wollt you want
sie/Sie wollen they/you (formal) want

Example sentences:

  • Er will Schokolade. (He wants chocolate.)
  • Ich will mir ein neues Auto kaufen. (I want to buy myself a new car.)

“Wollen” Conjugation in Simple Past Tense (Präteritum)

In general, the simple past tense in German is used in written, formal language. For example, it would be appropriate to use this tense in an email to your university professor or when applying for a job. When it comes to most verbs and spoken German, people tend to prefer the present perfect.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule – “wollen” included. Much like with the other modal verbs, you would mostly use the simple past tense of “wollen” to talk about something that happened in the past instead of the present perfect – even if the situation is super informal. This is just what sounds the most natural to a German ear.

So, pay close attention to this one; it’s important.

This is what the “wollen” conjugation looks like in the simple past tense:


ich wollte I wanted
du wolltest you wanted
er/sie/es wollte he/she/it wanted


wir wollten we wanted
ihr wolltet you wanted
sie/Sie wollten they/you (formal) wanted

Example sentences:

  • Sie wollten nach Italien reisen. (They wanted to travel to Italy.)
  • Du wolltest einen Hamburger. (You wanted a hamburger.)

“Wollen” Conjugation in Present Perfect Tense (Perfekt)

The “wollen” conjugation in the present perfect tense is a little tricky. This is because you have a couple of options to choose from.

In general, the present perfect tense consists of a conjugated form of either “haben” or “sein” + the main verb in the past participle form. However, when it comes to “wollen,” there is another option.

You can either say:

  • ich habe gewollt

Or you can say:

  • ich habe wollen

Unfortunately, this isn’t a situation where either option will work in all situations. There is a rule that you must follow to get this right.

If you’re talking about wanting a noun, then you would use the first option (“ich habe gewollt”).

However, if you’re talking about wanting to do something (verb), you would use the second option (“ich habe wollen”).

Look at these examples to see what I mean:

  • Ich habe einen Apfel gewollt. (I wanted an apple.)
  • Ich habe einen Apfel essen wollen. (I wanted to eat an apple.)


ich habe gewollt/wollen I have wanted
du hast gewollt/wollen you have wanted
er/sie/es hat gewollt/wollen he/she/it have wanted


wir haben gewollt/wollen we have wanted
ihr habt gewollt/wollen you have wanted
sie/Sie haben gewollt/wollen they/you (formal) have wanted

“Wollen” Conjugation in Past Perfect Tense (Plusquamperfekt)

The past perfect tense is very similar to the present perfect tense in German. All you need to do is put your auxiliary verb (“haben” or “sein”) in the simple past tense.

When it comes to the “wollen” conjugation specifically, the same rules as above apply. So, remember to check if you’re talking about wanting a noun or a verb!


ich hatte gewollt/wollen I had wanted
du hattest gewollt/wollen you had wanted
er/sie/es hatte gewollt/wollen he/she/it had wanted


wir hatten gewollt/wollen we had wanted
ihr hattet gewollt/wollen you had wanted
sie/Sie hatten gewollt/wollen they/you (formal) had wanted

Example sentences:

  • Ihr hattet Kinder gewollt. (You had wanted children.)
  • Sie hatten mit dem Auto fahren wollen. (They had wanted to travel by car.)

“Wollen” Conjugation in Future Tense (Futur I)

Good news! The “wollen” conjugation in the future tense isn’t very complicated. All you need to know is your auxiliary verb (“werden”) and how to conjugate it in the present tense. Once you have that, just add the infinitive (“wollen”) at the end – and that’s it! That’s all there is to it.


ich werde wollen I will want
du wirst wollen you will want
er/sie/es wird wollen he/she/it will want


wir werden wollen we will want
ihr werdet wollen you will want
sie/Sie werden wollen they/you (formal) will want

Example sentences:

  • Sie wird Kaffee wollen. (She will want coffee.)
  • Wir werden fernsehen. (We will want to watch TV.)

“Wollen” Conjugation in Future Perfect Tense (Futur II)

With the “wollen” conjugation in the future perfect tense, the same rule applies as what we discussed in the section about the two other perfect tenses. If you’re talking about wanting a noun, use “gewollt haben.” If you want a verb, use “haben wollen.”

The future perfect tense may seem a little overwhelming. But don’t worry too much about it. Chances are that you won’t even come across this. Germans don’t use this tense super often. Still, it’s good to know what the correct forms are.


ich werde gewollt haben/haben wollen I will have wanted
du wirst gewollt haben/haben wollen you will have wanted
er/sie/es wird gewollt haben/haben wollen he/she/it will have wanted


wir werden gewollt haben/haben wollen we will have wanted
ihr werdet gewollt haben/haben wollen you will have wanted
sie/Sie werden gewollt haben/haben wollen they/you (plural) will have wanted

Other Forms of “Wollen”

You’re almost done! There are only a couple of other forms you should be aware of if you want to truly master the “wollen” conjugation. These are:

Present Participle (Partizip I)

In English, we create the present participle by simply adding “-ing” to the end of the verb in question. For example, “to eat” → “eating.”

In German, the process is similarly easy. Instead of “-ing,” you just add “-d.” For example, “essen” → “essend.”

The present participle of “wollen” is, you guessed it, “wollend.”

Important! English and German use the present participle differently. In German, it’s used as an adjective – not a verb. If you want to say, “I am eating,” say “ich esse” – never “ich bin essend.”

Past Participle (Partizip II)

The past participle is what you use in all the perfect tenses we’ve discussed. So, you should already know that “gewollt” is the past participle of “wollen.”

Subjunctive (Konjunktiv II)

Subjunctive is a very complex topic in German grammar. It’s used when you want to talk about things and events that aren’t necessarily real.

If you’d like to learn the basics of how to use the subjunctive with modal verbs, check out this great guide by DeutschLera:

Learn More

Congratulations – you’re done with the “wollen” conjugation!

Still can’t get enough of German grammar? Well, why don’t you stick around and check out some of our other helpful guides? Here are some good ones to get you started:

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