"Do you have tea?"
Translation:У тебя есть чай?
OK...I Googled to verify that this is commonly used, and I got about five times as many hits for "у меня две кошки" than I did for "у меня есть две кошки," which tells me that it is frequent to leave "есть" out in possessive statements. Could you please explain why that example has two acceptable variants, but the sentence here on Duolingo has only one acceptable version? Sorry if I sound stupid...I would like to understand this better. :-/
it's ok, I feel stupid for not knowing how to explain this lol maybe there's a rule that I'm not aware of since I never had to think about it.. but I'll try to give some examples- if I ask someone if he has something I'll use the "есть" " У тебя есть кошки?" - do you have cats? then as an answer the person can drop the "есть" maybe because it's already in context that we are talking about what he has (есть). so he'd say "У меня собака" - "i have a dog". if the conversation was to start with the person saying "i have a dog" (without being asked) then he'd say "у меня есть собака".
of course this duolingo sentences are very simple and out of context so it's harder to know what to say.. in normal situation a person could say "У меня собака" and say more about it, other wise the other person will wait for more info about that statement.. like "i (have) a dog and it made so much noise i couldn't sleep last night".
anyways I think you can't go wrong when you add the "есть ".. so when in doubt, add it.
I might not be 100% right on this, but I remember reading a similar thread in an earlier lesson where someone explained the difference. I think you use есть when you are saying in general that you have a certain thing, and you leave the есть out when you are saying you have a certain thing instead of something else. Like if someone is offering you a pen and you really need a pencil, you would say, "У тебя карандаш?" Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what I remember reading from earlier.