I have come across the following sentence:

der Geldautomat: Eine Maschine, die einem Geld von seinem Konto auszahlt.

I could not derive the meaning of this sentence. Shouldn't it have been written as one of the following:

der Geldautomat: Eine Maschine, die einem Geld von ihrem Konto auszahlt.

der Geldautomat: Eine Maschine, die Geld von ihrem Konto auszahlt.

  • @HalvarF Thank you very much for your answer Nov 27, 2023 at 21:43
  • You can nearly translate it literally into English: "A machine, which pays out money to someone from his account". Your alternatives would mean: "to pay out money ... from her account", i.e. the machine would only work if the account holder is a woman, but would pay out money to everyone (men and women). I don't think such a bank would get many customers. Nov 28, 2023 at 8:04
  • @user1934428 "ihrem" belongs to the machine, not a female customer. Nov 28, 2023 at 12:25
  • @user1934428 If I could literally translate it, I would not ask about it. "einem" and "seinem" confused me. Your translations for my alternatives are wrong. "ihrem" belongs to the machine. Nov 28, 2023 at 12:49
  • Grammatically you are right, since "Maschine" is feminine. However a machine does not have an account, and therefore I would not understand it to refer to the machine. Nov 28, 2023 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


Whose account (Konto) is it that the money is coming from when the machine (die Maschine) disburses it to somebody?

What's meant here is not the account or cash cartridge of the machine, but the account of the person using the ATM to withdraw money. That person is refered to by "einem" and "seinem" in the original sentence.

I guess what could be confusing here is mainly the use of "einem", which in this sentence is basically the dative case of the indefinite pronoun "man".

From Wiktionary:

Das Indefinitpronomen man hat [...] keine weiteren [deklinierten] Formen, sodass in anderen Fällen als dem Nominativ Singular auf das Indefinitpronomen ein zurückgegriffen wird, namentlich einem im Dativ und einen im Akkusativ.

Jemandem etwas auszahlen means to disburse something to somebody.

The possessive "seinem" in turn refers back to "einem" - the account belongs to the person who was mentioned earlier.

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