"What do you read?"
Someone can correct me here, but usually "che" is not used as "what", at least when I use it or my husband and his family are speaking. (They're Italian). "Cosa"? Is "What?", and sometimes they use "Che cosa?" to mean "What is it?" So "che" is used as an emphasis. But no one ever says "Che legge?" to mean "What are you reading?" or "Che fai?" to mean "What are you doing?" It's always "Cosa legge?", "Cosa fai?", "Cosa mangi?" etc.
You are right, but it can be acceptable. If you stay in Rome, ...CHE FAI? means "what are you doing" (You hear something that sonds like "cheffai" in tipical roman accent :-) ) In other lands you can also say COSA FAI ? I think language is changing, many times people try to semplify...
P.S. Sorry for my poor english
L'Accademia Della Crusca seems to disagree with you ☺ http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/cosa-cosa-pensa-crusca
Ok. You are right, this is not as easy as i tried to describe. As you can read from "L'Accademia della Crusca": ... L'oscillazione tra che, che cosa e cosa (per eliminazione di che, indotta dal fastidioso ripetersi del suono iniziale) è di antica data: dall'inizio del '600 si attesta l'uso del semplice cosa. I live in the north of Italy and we use only cosa/che cosa when we ask questions, never 'che'. Thank you for the link, it was very interesting.
You're welcome :-)
The issue is what we perceive as correct and what is actually grammatically correct. Italian is quite a new language as, up to 50-60 years ago, it was confined to the literary milieu, with dialects being widely used. Then TV came and spread it nationwide. Yet the local dialects did not die and amalgamated with it to form the many forms of "italiano regionale" (Ex. Italians form the northen part of the country never use the passato remoto; Italians from the southern part use tenere for avere or uscire as transitive. Ever tried to speak with someone from Tuscany? ;-) ).
It is this "italiano regionale" and its peculiarities that we have to deal with and must take into consideration (possibly tone down) when teaching the language to foreigners.
"In questions beginning with an interrogative word, the subject is usually placed at the end of the sentence."
Therefore "Cosa leggi tu?" should be accepted as correct (but not "Cosa tu leggi?"). I haven't tried it to see if they accepted it though.
"Cosa tu leggi?" should be accepted. It is more formal, and Italians are pretty relaxed with their language (they hardly ever use pronouns to be honest), but "Cosa tu leggi" is absolutely correct. There is NO reason for that answer to be rejected. And it would be "Cosa leggi tu?" also. ("Cosa leggi" already means "What do you read?" But there's no reason you can't invert the word order....)
Subject pronouns are not used in italian unless there is a reason to. So if you say "cosa tu leggi" (by the way, if it is a question, the pronoun should go after the verb) then there is a strong emphasis on the "tu" and should be conveyed in English by putting more focus on the "you", such as "What is that you read?". "Cosa tu leggi" would be used in a sentence like "Cosa tu leggi non mi interessa" (strong emphasis on the "tu").
In English "you" is used for both formal and informal sentences (i.e. questions), while in Italian we use the third person (singular) when speaking to someone we want to pay respect to (a professor at Uni, a potential customer/supplier, etc.). Therefore, I think in this case Duo means, for example: "Cosa leggE (professor)?" instead of: "Cosa leggI (my friend)?" I hope this helped! :)
Well, you have a third option, which is the polite form. In that case the verb would be in the third person singular.
Without a context, it is impossible to say whether 'you read' is to be rendered in Italian as second person singular informal (tu leggi) second person plural (voi leggete) or second personal singular polite (lei legge).
Whenever you see 'you' in English, you need to keep in mind that it can represent 3 different things in Italian:
1) 'you' second person singular as in 'Mark: you are reading a book'. In Italian: tu (Mark: (tu) leggi un libro).
2) 'you' second person plural as in 'Mark and Mary: you are reading a book' (also, "y'all"). In Italian: voi (Mark e Mary: (voi) leggete un libro).
3) 'you' used when addressing a person in a formal/courtesy way as in 'Mr Smith: you are reading a book'. In Italian: Lei (Signor Smith: lei legge un libro).
English makes no distinction among these 3 kinds of 'you' but Italian does. The context will tell you which one applies.
Re. Che cos' leggi tu?: Italian doesn't really use pronouns with verbs as the subject is already expressed by the verb conjugation (I put them in brackets for clarity in the sentences above. In real life you would not use them). Therefore the correct sentence would be Che cosa leggi? (also: cos' is not correct in front of leggi)