I can't understand according to which rule such nouns have been declined in this example:

1- An vielen kleinen Haltestellen gibt es nur einen Fahrkartenautomaten.

I can't exactly comprehend why we have : "Fahrkartenautomaten" with 'en' ending! It's not accusative, because we only change article and adjective in Accusative case. It's doesn't seem plural, because before that it says: "einen". It doesn't look genitive because there aren't two nouns. And definitely it's not Dative, because in Dative only plural nouns have "en" ending.

  • I can't really understand what has happened in the sentence, please someone explain. – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 14:52
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    You should brush up a bit on your German grammar knowledge. It is accusative. Your explanation why it can't be is wrong. – jarnbjo Oct 20 '19 at 15:08
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    But it is in Akkusativ. A declension table can tell you that. Note: it should be an vielen kleinen not kleine. – infinitezero Oct 20 '19 at 15:12
  • Your only problem is to identify the accusative here. Here is a simple method: with es gibt you may ask: Es gibt wen oder was? Ergo accusative. – Christian Geiselmann Oct 21 '19 at 11:13
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    @mic Please don't tell learners, that gibt es nur einen Fahrkartenautomat would be correct! It's not. The -en ist not optional. See also this question. – Olafant Feb 20 '20 at 8:33

It is an accusative. The sentence translates as At many small stops there is only one (or: a) ticket machine. The English there is in German is realised as es gibt, and es gibt is followed by an accusative object (question: Wen/Was gibt es?):

Es gibt [ein großes Problem]Akk. / [zehn Autos]Akk. / [schwierige Fragen]Akk. / [einen Fahrkartenautomaten]Akk.

(As you can verify using Canoo, Fahrkartenautomaten is indeed the accusative singular of Fahrkartenautomat.)

You may find some helpful context at https://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/Nouns/accusative.html.

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    First of all, Thanks. I got that there are some weak nouns. So, is "Automat" also a weak noun?! I didn't find it in the list of the link you have given. – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 15:19
  • Oh hopefully I found a comprehensive explanation about weak nouns and a list of them here: forum.duolingo.com/comment/10973844/… – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 15:24
  • Yes. (Though it looks like you've already figured that out by yourself.) – johnl Oct 20 '19 at 16:56
  • Thanks dear @johnl but seriously I didn't know it before asking the question. – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 17:03
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    I didn't mean to suggest otherwise, I just didn't want to leave the question unanswered. :) – johnl Oct 20 '19 at 17:05

The word Fahrkartenautomat is a compound noun. The building blocks are:

  • die Fahrkarte = ticket
  • der Automat = automaton, machine

So the whole word means ticket machine. (The first part, Fahrkarte is again a compound noun, it is build from the verb fahren = to travel and the noun die Karte = card, giving Fahrkarte = traveling card, and Fahrkartenautomat = traveling card machine)

In a compound noun it is always the last part that rules the gender of the whole word, and it also rules the declination. So, Fahrkartenautomat is masculine, because Automat is masculine, and the declination of Fahrkartenautomat is exactly the same as of Automat:


  • Nominative

    Dieser Kasten hier ist der Fahrkartenautomat.
    Dieser Kasten hier ist der Automat.

    This box here is the ticket machine.
    This box here is the machine.

  • Genitive

    Die Reisenden bedienen sich des Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Die Reisenden bedienen sich des Automaten.

    The travelers make use of the ticket machine.
    The travelers make use of the machine.

  • Dativ

    Der Erste-Hilfe-Kasten ähnelt dem Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Der Erste-Hilfe-Kasten ähnelt dem Automaten.

    The first aid box is similar to the ticket machine.
    The first aid box is similar to the machine.

  • Akkusativ

    Ich sehe den Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Ich sehe den Automaten.

    I see the ticket machine.
    I see the machine.


  • Nominative

    Diese Kästen hier sind die Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Diese Kästen hier sind die Automaten.

    These boxes here are the ticket machines.
    These boxes here are the machines.

  • Genitive

    Die Reisenden bedienen sich der Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Die Reisenden bedienen sich der Automaten.

    The travelers makes use of the ticket machines.
    The travelers makes use of the machines.

  • Dativ

    Die Erste-Hilfe-Kästen ähneln den Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Die Erste-Hilfe-Kästen ähnelt den Automaten.

    The first aid boxes are similar to the ticket machines.
    The first aid boxes are similar to the machines.

  • Akkusativ

    Ich sehe die Fahrkartenautomaten.
    Ich sehe die Automaten.

    I see the ticket machines.
    I see the machines.

The Verb etwas geben (to be something) needs its Object in accusative case:

Es gibt einen Fahrkartenautomaten.
Es gibt einen Automaten.

There is a ticket machine.
There is a machine.

  • Thanks for your complete description dear @Hubert Schölnast . Now I understand that this change also occurs for other cases except nominative. And if in a dictionary we find a masculine noun with "es" sign to add for example: der Gott, that would only occur for Genitive and no more on Dative or Accusative. Am I right? – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 15:57
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    That is correct but your dictionary should also tell you so. – infinitezero Oct 20 '19 at 16:04
  • Thanks @infinitezero, Do you mean for those weak nouns that have a separate from only common in Dative and Accusative and another form for Genitive? E.g. in my Langenscheidt and Oxford dictionary after the weak noun "Name" it's been written: "ns" postfix. So we would have "Namen" for D and A and "Namens" for G? – Armin Oct 20 '19 at 16:36
  • Declension table for Name – infinitezero Oct 20 '19 at 16:40

It's called N-ceclension. Der Automat is one of those n-declension words. (often words imported from a foreign language.

  • Welcome to German.SE. Could you please add some more information about your mentioned rules and regulatories, maybe some examples or links for further understanding? – Shegit Brahm Feb 19 '20 at 14:09

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