"The crab is an animal."
Translation:Krab jest zwierzęciem.
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Do not discard your sentence yet. Incidentally, it is correct, but not here. It is the little "to", which gives the sentence a totally different meaning: "To krab" means "It is the crab which...", so "to" doesn't define the crab, but indicates the crab and distinguishes it from the crowd:
To krab jest zwierzęciem - It is the crab, which is an animal (others are not)
Whatever is after "to" - doesn't change. After "jest" - nouns change. A correct sentence with it is "Krab jest zwierzęciem".
This is called the instrumental case. Masculine and neuter words end with -em, feminine with -ą (including all a-ending masculine nouns such as mężczyzna).
My personal view is that "Krab to zwierzę" is more like "A crab = an animal" and "Krab jest zwierzęciem" is more... descriptive. In most cases the Instrumental form sounds superior to me, although a moment ago I was commenting on "This animal is a tiger" and I'd use "To zwierzę to tygrys" there... because "This animal = a tiger" makes more sense there.
I don't quite follow you. The Berlitz polish dictionary has beast as zwierze, which is the SAME word as for an animal. It would be quite easy to give the instrumental ending as zwierzem. The e is already there. The word just needs an m. The ciem ending seems peculiar and unlike other instrumental endings.I hope I am making myself clear.
Take another look at your dictionary and you will see that there's an ę at the end, which is an entirely different letter from e. And -ęm is not a valid instrumental ending, therefore you can't just add an -m.
The word actually contains an -ęt in its stem (with /ci/ being the softened conterpart of /t/), so the declension is completely regular apart from one form, which is "zwierzę". The /t/ just gets omitted here.