To vs Ten and Ta in Czech
I am confused about the use of the article "to" in Czech. I feel like I'm following the rules but I am always getting answers wrong because I use to and it's supposed to be ta or ten and then I use ta or ten and get it wrong because it's supposed to be to.
That is unfortunate. But do you have any specific question? You haven't asked one.
I can only refer you too the Tips and notes, this article https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30304525 and repeat that you use the gender specific ones when it is directly tied to a noun "ten den, ta noc, to město".
For example, why is it "Jsou to masiny nove?" (sorry no accents) and not "Jsou ty masiny nove?" Since masina is feminine and the feminine plural is ty according to the lesson. That link may be helpful, but seems more like it's about word order than which form to use based on context.
Actually, it is "Jsou TY mašiny nové?". It is "the machines" or "those machines", the demonstrative is directly bound to the noun, so "ty mašiny", "ty stroje".
But on the other hand: "To jsou nové mašiny."/"These are new machines." Here you have "to jsou"="these are", the pronoun is not directly bound to any noun, it is bound the "být"/"to be" verb. In this case it is always TO. "To jsem já." "To jsi ty." To jste vy" "To jsou oni." "To je dobrý člověk." "To je pěkné zvíře."
This is the same,
"those words"="ta slova"
"those are" (words) = "to jsou" (slova)
I do not want to poke holes in your question, but it occurs to me that maybe you could figure it out by examining what you said a bit closer:
confused about the use of the article "to" in Czech
Czech does not have articles, just demonstrative pronouns, which reach well beyond the English definite article, although there is an overlap of use. Now look at the two sentences you provided, and "translate" them using the English definite article, word for word:
- To (ne)jsou dobrá slova: The are (not) good words.
- Ta slova (ne)jsou dobrá: The words are (not) good.
One of them works, the other one does not. The one that works requires the use of the gender/number agreeing version of the pronoun. (Ten kluk, ten strom, ta kočka, to slovo, ti kluci, ty stromy, ty kočky, ta slova.) The version that fails the "the" test is the independent, non-agreeing TO pronoun.