I could not understand why it is Bankautomaten in this sentence

Kannst du an einem Bankautomat**en** anhalten?

In the dictionary, the singular noun is Der Bankautomat and plural noun is Die Bankautomaten. Why can it be einem Bankautomaten? What is the grammar rule here?

  • 2
    What would you expect instead? Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 14:06
  • 3
    @πάνταῥεῖ clearly the OP would expect Bankautomat.
    – c.p.
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 16:46
  • 1
    You have to consider all hints: einem Bankautomaten cannot be plural because ein is a strictly singular article. The -em at einem gives away it's dative case, and the -en on Bankautomaten agrees to that.
    – Janka
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


There's a group of nouns called n-stem, or weak nouns. These nouns take a weak "-en" ending in the genitive, dative and accusative singular forms. Der Automat belongs to this group.

Examples include:

Der Junge, des Jungen, dem Jungen, den Jungen
Der Kunde, des Kunden, dem Kunden, den Kunden
Der Bär, des Bären, dem Bären, den Bären
Der Mensch, des Menschen, dem Menschen, den Menschen

There is also a (very) small subgroup in which the singular genitive takes "-ens" as an ending:

Der Name, des Namens, dem Namen, den Namen
Das Herz, des Herzens, dem Herzen, das Herz *
Der Wille, des Willens, dem Willen, den Willen
Der Gedanke, des Gedankens, dem Gedanken, den Gedanken

* Note the accusative form for Herz

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    But note that in south-German dialects, in spoken language, the dative -en is often omitted. Dem Junge, dem Kunde, dem Bär, dem Mensch is what I and people around me would say - not write, though. Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 5:19

Because the word "an" in this usage requires a dative, and (Bank)automaten is a dative singular form (and also the dative plural form).

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    The preposition "an" can also be used with accusative, but not in this case because anhalten does not involve direction.
    – RHa
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 16:12
  • 1
    Bankautomaten matches all cases except nominative singular. One has to check the article to determine the case.
    – Janka
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 20:00

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