"On jest starym mężczyzną."
Translation:He is an old man.
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mężczyzna is a man, only male specimen of human beings are mężczyźni Mężczyzna = man, mężczyzna jest człowiekiem/istotą ludzką, ale tylko osobniki płci męskiej są mężczyznami
"On" can be translated to "he" or "it" in English, never "she". In this sentence "on" is a person so it has to be "he". On można tłumaczyć na angielki jako he albo it, ale nigdy she. w tym zdaniu "on" jest osobą, więc musi być "he"
"a" is an English language thing, or Polish teachers of English thing, in Polish we do not have any difference between no article/a/the so we tend to omit them in English which leads to teachers enforcing their use whenever possible. If you are English speaker who is sure "a" here is unnecessary, please tell us and report "He is old man". If you are not good at English, always use "a/an" in singular and no article in plural in Duolingo, works for me.
"A" to kwestia języka angielskiego po polsku nie ma "a" i "the" więc je często pomijamy po angielsku, w związku z czym nauczyciele ich wymagają kiedy tylko to możliwe. Jeśli jesteś pewna/pewny że "he is old man" jest prawidłowe po angielsku, zgłoś. Jeśli nie znasz dobrze zasad "a/the", w Duolingo uzywaj zawsze "a" w liczbie pojedyńczej i żadnego a/the w liczbie mnogiej. Zawzyczaj działa
I thought this was a good question. It's a point that has troubled me in the past. At first view there seems an inconsistency in matching a masculine form of the adjective with an apparently feminine form of noun. It took me some time to work out (and I hope this is correct) that "mężczyzna" is a masculine noun. Therefore the adjective has to take the masculine form which, in instrumental case, is "starym".
But I think the question from AnnFabiszakPayne is, essentially, - why, if "mężczyzna" is a masculine noun, doesn't it take a masculine instrumental ending so as to become something like "mężczyznem" (rather than the feminine form "mężczyzną")?
I believe the answer is because, although it is a masculine noun, it declines as if it were a feminine noun. It's another exception to the rule to place on a fairly tall pile of Polish language exceptions.
Yes, it's basically that. It looks like a feminine noun, it undergoes declension as if it was a feminine noun, but it's not. It's masculine, it takes masculine adjectives and masculine forms of verbs (in Past Tense and in Future Compound).
I guess we could say that while of course there are many exceptions that one just needs to remember, Polish doesn't have things that would be as illogical as making the word for a "man" a feminine noun :)