"The man cooks."
Translation:Mannen lagar mat.
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In this context, "cooks" implies that food is being cooked, and "cooks" alone (when not followed by what's being cooked) always translates to "lagar mat". "Cooks dinner" would be "lagar middag".
Just "mannen lagar" translates to "the man fixes/repairs": Mannen lagar datorn = The man fixes the computer.
I had someone explain it to me and yes, "mannen lagar maltiden" is correct and "mannen lager maltid" was missing an article-morpheme (morpheme: the minimal unit that bears meaning, in this case: definite or indefinite), "en maltid" just generally sounds a little outdated. Geez, I love this language :D
Okay, in the meantime, I had a native speaker explain it to me and while "mannen lagar" is not genuinely incorrect, it sounds much rather like the English "the man fixes"... fixes what? the car, the sink, dinner? (see what I did there? :D ). "lagar" demands 2 arguments.