Isn't that correct considering they don't give you any clues if it is she or they and asking you to choose: Was (essen/isst) sie?
You cannot exchange the verb forms "isst" is 3rd person singular and "essen" is 3rd person plural (out of context it could also be the infinitive and 1st person plural) as it is together with "sie".
"Was essen sie?" and "Was isst sie?" I believe are both correct. When I came across the question in the lesson it was in a question with a drop down that offered both essen and isst (and a third option I don't remember). I chose isst: "What is she eating?"
Sure, both are correct German sentences but each one has its own correct English translations. "Was essen sie?" can only translate to 'What are they eating?' or 'What do they eat? '
Yes, you have a huge clue: the verb "essen" is plural, the subject just cannot be 'she', which is singular.
The clue or rule is that when you use "Sie" reffering to "you" it must be capitalized. So if it's a -fill in the blank- question, you must pay attention to the capitalization of that specific word "Was essen Sie?" or "Was isst sie?".
There are three "sie"s in German: Sie (you formal), sie (she), sie (they). The conjugation for Sie (you formal) and sie (they) is the same (essen) and for sie (she) it is isst. If they offered both isst and essen either answer should have been marked correct.
Why does essen come before sie (you) in this sentence. I know that KyKy answered this question, but I don't understand her answer.
Can someone lay it out for me so I can better understand it?
Because in German questions the verb comes before the subject, as is the case in English:
'Are you hungry?' = "Hast du Hunger?"
'How old is she?' = "Wie alt ist sie?"
'May I help you?' = "Kann ich dir helfen?"
'How many sausages have they eaten? = "Wie viele Würste haben sie gegessen?"
The verb needs to be the second constituent in (such) a question. A constituent can be longer than a word. For example "[Welches Buch] [liest] [du]?" - "Which book do you read?" or "[Was für eine Tasche] [kaufst] [du]?" - "What kind of bag are you buying?"
What do you mean by 'A constituent can be longer than a word.?' Can you explain more?
I put the constituents in brackets..For exapmle [Was für ein Buch] is one constituent.
For me, this question was presented as a "What do you hear?" format question, therefore there is no way to distinguish between "you" (formal) and "they".
You're right, but for this kind of question you just have to write it down, you don't need to translate anything.