"Kaczki to zwierzęta."
Translation:Ducks are animals.
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Other than colloquially are there any more distinctions between using "to" and "być"? "To" is not a verb, so it's difficult for English speakers to understand just how it is used here. The case is not accusative so it is like the whole phrase "kaczka to ptak" is the subject in the sentence. Also if the word "zwierze" does not include birds it has a different meaning than "animal".
Yes, but this is the wrong case.
I agree. Why not kaczki SA zwierzeta? I suppose in English "ducks, this animal" has a similar meaning but sounds odd. If we write "kaczki sa zwierzeta" is this technically wrong? If so, then in conjugation tables for bytch (to be)why is there no to but sa for third person plural?
"to" has many meanings. In this sentence, it functions as the copula (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula_(linguistics)). Even though it's not a verb, in here it means "is/are".
"to be" in Polish is "być", not "bytch" ;) "to" isn't any form of "to be", as mentioned before. You may think of it (it's a simplification of course) as something similar to an "=" sign. "Ducks = animals". That's why it wouldn't work in "Ducks are big", because "Ducks = big" makes no sense. "Ducks = big animals" would be okay.
Yes, you can use "są", but the construction with "są" (or any other form of the verb "być") needs the following noun/noun phrase to take Instrumental case. That makes it "Kaczki są zwierzętami".