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Because "isst" is a singular form of the verb "essen".
Sie [capitalized] = you (formal)
sie [not capitalized] = she or they
As you said, since "sie" is the first word in this sentence, the fact that it's capitalized is inconclusive. But another important factor is always the verb - here, we have a singular form of the verb (3rd person singular), so it can only mean "she". For "you" and "they", a plural form of the verb would be used (3rd person plural).
Sie isst nicht. = She is not eating.
Sie essen nicht = They/You are not eating.
They are not eating/They do not eat = Sie essen nicht.
Standard German doesn't distinguish between the simple and the progressive aspects (eat vs. eating) - there is is just one form for both.
But the sentence in the exercise reads "Sie isst nicht", which means "She is not eating/She does not eat".
This thread became somewhat cluttered up, so I decided to clean it up a bit and delete a bunch of comments.
Quite a few people have asked about duolingo accepting "Sie ist nicht" as a correct solution. If it occurs in a listening exercise, it should be accepted since 'Sie isst' and 'Sie ist' sound exactly the same and are both grammatically correct. But note that the verb 'sein' normally isn't used on its own except for some religious or philosophical contexts. If it is accepted as a translation of 'She is not eating', this is clearly wrong and should be reported as an error.
How can you tell the difference between "ist" and "isst"? i.e. "She is not" or "She is not eating"
Only by the spelling or the context - the pronunciation of "ist" and "isst" is identical.
Also, "Sie ist nicht" is an incomplete sentence in German. In anything other than a philosophical debate ("She thinks not, therefore she is not"), you would normally have to add some additional information about what she is not or where she is not.
(being a French, using duolingo to learn German through English, I'm not sure but...) I find strange one of the proposed "correct solutions": "she has not eating" ??
Understood, yes, but I think Duolingo wants you to translate the sentence into normal English. Not into the English of Shakespeare, old Bible translations or poetry.
I have heard learning German through Elizabethian english brings a great advantage the learner. :-) Interesting how "she does not" is still around colloquially.& she is not.... or is this a totally different concept I'm just blabering about? She is not the horse, she eats not the meal.
I wrote "She doesn't eat"; it marked it correct but said another translation is "She is not eating."
How can I tell the difference?
Without context, you can't tell the difference. The sentence "Sie isst nicht" can either mean "She is not eating" or "She does not eat" - that's why Duolingo gave you the alternative translation.
As a beginner, this is confusing and I think needs clarification. It says ´sie ist nicht´ which means she is not, however it is accepted as a translation of 'She is not eating', which is sie isst nicht, this is clearly wrong in this case and as I said confusing and should be reported as an error, I thought. The solution is, for beginners Duolingo would be better to only use words that sound the same in written form, so we can see the difference between the two and therefore and not just in audio...
Wouldn't "she eats not" be an appropriate answer? That's the literal translation...
No offense but is that how you talk in real life? I really don't understand why people ask these kind of questions in here..
Sometimes I do, I just don't understand why it doesn't accept the answer.
Because that's not the correct answer. German sentence order is different so we don't translate it to another language in that exact order. You might talk like that with people around but that's not the correct way of talking among a huge majority of people, so it makes sense that "She eats not" is not the correct answer.
How do i know the difference between sie (she) and Sie (they) when "Sie" is the first word in the sentence so it has a capital letter?
I was given "Sie isst nicht"
You have to look at the context. In the word Sie, there would have been an ending of -en, but there wasn't, so the correct answer must have been talking of the word sie, giving the ending -t.
sie(she) and sie(they) both are not capitalized unless at the beginning of a sentence. Sie(you formal) is always capitalized. The way you know the difference is the context, which there is none in this example.
Can someone please explain why the sentence is constructed this way in German? As in, nicht is placed after isst which is wrong if literally translated to english, word for word so I'm a bit confused.
The position of "nicht" – a topic all native English learners of German love! See here: http://is.gd/EZo9IV I'd suggest to bookmark the page and refer back to it any time you encounter a sentence with "nicht" that throws you off (which – quite frankly – will happen more than once).
Is the pronunciation of "isst" and "ist" the same? Because it always picks up "ist" when I say it and never "isst". Is there a slight difference?
It's archaic English that can still be found in Shakespeare, old Bible translations or poetry. It's not what anybody would say or write today, at least not in a normal text or conversation. It would have to be: "She does not eat" or "She doesn't eat".
How would you change "Sie isst nicht" into a question would you just switch the verb and subject, to become Isst sie nicht? please help...
Position of nicht
Usually nicht follows the conjugated verb and adverbs of time: Ich esse nicht viel. (I am not eating a lot). and Ich esse heute nicht. (I am not eating today).