"Sometimes they eat from the old plates."
Translation:Někdy jedí z těch starých talířů.
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Czech hasn't got any articles. These are demonstrative pronouns and do not correspond exactly to English definite articles. They certainly do make a difference and in most sentences you can't leave them out when they are needed. Here you can theoretically leave "těch" out, when it is clear from the context, which old plates you have in mind.
A rule of thumb - when it is not clear otherwise which exact "the" thing we have in mind. If we have only one cat around then "the cat" will often just be "kočka" and "ta kočka" will point to "that cat". If we see a previously unknown cat somewhere then "ta kočka" could be "the cat".
Sometimes English requires "the" in expressions like "the last" or "the first" or "the next". Czech does not have this gramatical requirement and it will be just "první", "poslední", "další" without any demonstrative.
So does "z" and "ze" usage follow the same rules as "v" and "ve" usage? And what puts this in the genitive? "Of" (in English) is not the trigger here. So is it "z/ze" even if it's in another context than "of"? Well, I'm going to answer my own question. Obviously it is. Something good to know!
If the rule is "if it's hard to pronounce without the extra -e, add the -e", then yes, same rule. But obviously, if the next word begins with "v", you get: "ve výtahu" vs. "z výtahu", while if it begins with "z", you get: "v zahradě" vs. "ze zahrady".
The preposition "z" is always followed by the genitive. Some prepositions use more than one case for different meanings, but "z" is a "nice" one, it only always uses the genitive.
We can call it an exception. "se sebou" is never used, always only "s sebou" -- this leads a lot of native Czechs to incorrectly spell it as "sebou" (i.e. just the instrumental without the preposition), because they are pronounced the same. Czechs have to be specifically taught to distinguish them in writing, e.g.:
- František si je sebou příliš jistý. -- František is too sure of himself.
- František si bere kávu vždy s sebou. -- František always takes coffee to go.
The prepositionless "sebou" is not very common, it's mostly used after verbs that express movement of the body, e.g. "mrskat sebou, házet sebou, hýbat sebou, škubat sebou" -- variations of "to move about, to toss about, to twitch...", while "s sebou" is limited to taking/bringing something/someone with oneself, e.g. "Vzal s sebou na výlet mladšího bratra." (He took his little brother along / with him on the trip.) or the phrase "to go" when buying food/drinks.
In Prague (or elsewhere in Czechia), you may occasionally see something like "káva sebou" chalked incorrectly on signs by "semiliterate" Czechs :-)
The point is, "s sebou" is not hard to pronounce, hence no need to add the extra "-e". It's simply pronounced the same as "sebou".