The clue is "nejsou." Since that's the third person plural form, "ona" can't be the third person singular feminine version. And, yes, it can all be VERY confusing, especially when you're (1) not too far into this yet, or (2) far enough into it to start getting REALLY confused... like me! :-)
Why does everyone come here with such hints from their boyfriends and girlfriends? If you do not trust this course, learn from them. This sentence is absolutely fine and focuses on being or not being (short) as the focus (comment, rheme). Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topic_and_comment and let your boyfriends and girlfriends check https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aktu%C3%A1ln%C3%AD_v%C4%9Btn%C3%A9_%C4%8Dlen%C4%9Bn%C3%AD and https://www.czechency.org/slovnik/AKTU%C3%81LN%C3%8D%20%C4%8CLEN%C4%9AN%C3%8D%20V%C4%9ATN%C3%89
"Ona nejsou krátká" is a neutral sentence. "Ona krátká nejsou" stresses the verb.
This course is teaching standard (literary) Czech, in which "ona" is the only possible neuter plural personal pronoun. Once you have a good basis of standard Czech, it will be easy for you to choose a non-literary variety and start using it. For instance, this would become "voni nejsou krátký" in the central Bohemian dialect, while people would say "ony nejsú krátké" in the southern Moravian dialect. Notice how all three words differ in form from the standard "ona nejsou krátká".
As for word order - "(ona) nejsou krátká" is the default neutral word order, which states "they're not short". Here you are supposed to learn that Czech uses changes in word order to express different meanings. By placing the verb last, we are stressing it, hence "ona krátká nejsou" corresponds to "they are NOT short" in English, with the "not" stressed in spoken language. In written English, you might need to include "really not" or "actually not" to convey the idea that Czech expresses by placing "nejsou" last.
The tricky bit, I think, is that we don't KNOW that we are "supposed to learn that Czech uses changes in word order to express different meanings" based solely on our exposure to exercise sentences that seem to be just ordering the words differently, for no apparent reason. Eventually, we start to "get" that, but I think it happens largely because of the Sentence Q&A. When we've read the explanation often enough, it eventually starts to sink in! :-)
You're right, there's no way to know until you're exposed to many sentences and you start looking for patterns and explanations as to why words seem to shuffle about so much :)
I would probably stick to the neutral SVO word order in the beginning, because this just adds another layer of confusion to learning an already complicated language. But it's a matter of opinion, of course, at which stage to start teaching these meaningful shifts in the word order. We do use them, after all, all the time, even in the simplest of sentences.
I would probably stick to the neutral SVO word order in the beginning[...]
The team (which you are most welcome to join) is attempting something of the sort in version 2. Delay the inevitable a bit, start English-like, then introduce things like "Kávu nepiju.", and on and on.
Je to normální česká věta. Znamená they are not short. Není tu co vysvětlovat, leda snad poradit, kde se dá přiučit češtině (kromě obecných rad jako více číst) https://www.databazeknih.cz/knihy/rady-cechum-jak-se-hrave-priuciti-cestine-157340
I'm Slovakian and I've never heard "ona" as plural, only as singular feminine, plural for me would be "ony" which is gender neutral. And I wouldn't expect czech to be that drastically different but I could be wrong I guess. Just sounds very alien to me, it literally sounds like "she are" not "they are" to me
It's not that drastically different. The difference is that Czech (unlike Slovak!) maintains the 3 genders (4 if you count animate/inanimate) even in plural:
Ti mladí muži byli hezcí. (masc. anim.) - Those young men were handsome.
Ty mladé stromy byly hezké. (masc. inanim.) - Those young trees were nice.
Ty mladé ženy byly hezké. (fem.) - Those young women were pretty.
Ta mladá koťata byla hezká. (neu.) - Those young kittens were nice.
Notice the agreement (i-í-i-í, y-é-y-é, a-á-a-á).
This is standard Czech and it's a little different from common Czech, which doesn't follow the rules of the literary language. You won't hear the correct plural endings in common Czech, and in the case of plural neuter (ta modrá auta) you won't even hear them in Moravian dialects, which are otherwise usually closer to standard Czech.
Ano v tomto názoru se shodneme, že by ten druhý neměl navrhovat kurz češtiny. Já se o to alespoň nepokouším (a ani nebudu) :-) Nicméně kdyby mne to napadlo, tak bych se určitě snažil nad připomínkami více přemýšlet, protože to, jak je kurz aktuálně postaven je bohužel opravdu nešťastné. Ale souhlasím, že to je vaše věc a nikoliv má, takže hezké svátky a šťastný nový rok :-)
Thanks. So, if I understood well, you do not have "ta" and "ona" as two of three possible demonstrative pronouns, as in some other languages (depending on the distance)? "Ta" can be demonstrative, but "ona" not? I don't see between your flags a language that I could use to give you an example, anyway I'll try with Portuguese, for "man": este, esse, aquele homem, sing. - estes, esses, aqueles homens, pl.; Italian questo, codesto (not used anymore), quello.; and with Serbo-croatian, that is more similar: ovaj, taj, onaj. Neutral in s-h (es. "deca" - "children"), would be OVA, TA and ONA (these, /in the middle/, those - where two of them look the same as in Czech, but the function seems to be different...).
Hmmm, you're actually right. There's a personal pronoun "on" (ona, ono, oni, ony, ona in other genders/numbers) and also a demonstrative pronoun "onen" (ona, ono, oni, ony, ona in other genders/numbers) - as you can see, they only differ in masculine (anim.+inanim.) singular. They also become very different in other cases (e.g. ono-personal: genitive jeho/něho vs. ono-demonstrative: genitive: onoho).
I didn't think about it at first, because we rarely use this demonstrative pronoun in modern Czech. Interestingly, the Czech wiktionary lists "ono" as both personal and demonstrative: https://cs.wiktionary.org/wiki/ono, but the English version of that article only defines it as personal.
I'm not certain how the demonstrative "ono" functions in Serbo-Croatian, but from what I've heard it's still used actively and differently than in Czech.
In Czech, we use:
ten (ta, to, ti, ty, ta) for unspecified distances
tento (tato, toto, etc.) for objects nearby
tenhle (tahle, tohle, etc.) colloquial version of "tento"
tamten (tamta, tamto, etc.) for distant objects
onen (ona, ono, etc.) is old-fashioned, it usually means "the previously mentioned" and it remains in the fixed expression "onen svět", which means "afterlife, next world".
So going back to your first question, the answer is actually a reluctant yes: it can mean that, in an archaic or poetic use of the language. :))