In an episode of Seinfeld, when asked where he got the Junior Mints he's eating, Kramer answers "from the machine". Would it be correct to say that in this case, "the machine" refers to all types of vending machines in general, and not to the specific vending machine that he happened to dispense it from? Thanks.

2 Answers 2


As I understand it could refer to either. If Jerry knew the specific vending machine Kramer used on a regular basis, then it could mean that one in particular. My friend often gets lunch from the machine, and I know which one since we a. work in the same building and b. there is only one vending machine in that building.

In this case, he's just being general. It's not important at all unless someone specifically asks where a vending machine is, much as you might say you got something at the store. "Where'd you get that bagel?" "From the deli." If Jerry queried further then maybe then Kramer might be more specific...

K: From the machine.

J: The one in the gym?

K: Of course. Do you know any other machine?

J: There's the machine in the lobby.

K: Oh I don't bother with that guy. He's doesn't know what he's doing. There could be Junior Mints everywhere, Jerry. Everywhere!

  • +1 I should have provided further details. Both of them are at a hospital, which is not a setting they are familiar with. So Jerry would not know the location of the particular machine. Nevertheless, your answer still made sense for me. Thank you.
    – user40248
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:28
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    Classic episode.
    – Amory
    Jul 31, 2013 at 16:22
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    Since "the machine" can be used for all kinds of things, it's the context that tells Jerry what Kramer is talking about. It would make no sense to consider "the machine" to be "the political machine", "the music business machine", "the education system machine", or any of hundreds of other types of machines that have no business dispensing Junior Mints. Also, we know that Jerry only asked with a passing interest and probably didn't really care where Kramer got the candy.
    – oosterwal
    Aug 1, 2013 at 0:43

Since Kramer was not specific, he must have assumed Jerry would know what he meant. To me, both possibilities are valid. If he had said "the machine" while being somewhere else, we would still know what he meant - a vending machine.

  • +1 Thank you. So, as I understand it, one question to ask in such a case would be whether the two people are talking face-to-face.
    – user40248
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:25

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