"Avraham's truck is empty."
Translation:המשאית של אברהם ריקה.
Sometimes, like in this sentence, you don't need the copula at all. This is typically in sentences of the form "The noun is adjective". So you can say המשאית של אברהם ריקה, or המשאית של אברהם היא ריקה. In sentence of the form "The noun is a noun" you do need a copula, המשאית של אברהם היא סמיטריילר. You use the זה/זאת copula instead of the הוא/היא/הם/הן copula when you are expressing something general like משאית זה רכב גדול. Or sometimes דשא זה ירוק (with an adjective).
I think... When we use זה/זאת it's more general. Try to think how it would sound as two separate phrases in English. Like "a dog - this is an animal" כלב זה חיה. (Actually this should technically be הוא but I think in practice most people would use זה here. Both are possible colloquially, anyway (a dog, it is an animal versus a dog, this is an animal). Whereas in the example above, it sounds strange to say המשאית של אברהם זאת ריקה (the truck of Abraham, this is empty, rather than "it is").
Anyway, the most important thing is that you wrote משאית and not המשאית and that is the main error.
Hello, I’m sorry for what is probably a basic question. Why does “truck” have a definite article here? In other words, is it necessary to have the construction “the + truck + of + Abraham”? Could we ever have “truck + of + Abraham” and have it also mean “Abraham’s truck” or is that not how possession works?
Thank you so much! Any input is appreciated!
The short answer is yes, you always need to use the definite article in this type of possessive construction, using של. However, you don't need a definite article if you use a possessive suffix. These are considered old fashioned/formal though, except when denoting close family members. There are at least four other, more formal ways of showing possession in Hebrew, so we can all learn to love the word של very, very much...