"그 연필은 작습니다."
Translation:That pencil is small.
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Don't worry, nobody really does :). The topic is what the sentence is about, not necessarily the noun phrase that controls the conjugation and meaning of the verb, which is the subject. In sentences like this, the topic particle is used to shift the focus away from whatever was mentioned before and towards "that pencil".
I would think no. while a "short pencil" would be small, small doesn't necessarily mean short. a pencil can be long and small at the same time. a full sized pencil could be long by pencil standards, but also small enough to fit into a small gap.
you can also have a big and short pencil. imagine a pencil 10x the size overall of a normal pencil. that is a big pencil. but after using it for a while, it'll become a short pencil, but it's still big relative to normal pencils.
"small" and "big" refers to general size of all dimensions. "short" and "long" typically refers to the longest dimension of something.
like a 2x4 piece of lumber. it's short in terms of height and width, but can be like 10 feet long, so it's generally considered long based on it's longest dimension.
그 technically only means 'that' because Korean has no articles, so 'a/an/the' don't exist. But 그 is handy because it not only means 'that (close to listener),' but also 'that (previously mentioned)'. So, 그 연필 can mean "that pencil that was talked about," which serves a similar function to 'the pencil'.