simples = simple same in singular and plural. I think it's the same thing as with lápis with the only difference that simples is an adjective and lápis is a noun. E.g. Ele é simples. Eles são simples.
That's the important part, learning the words. The closest english translation is the best way to remember things. There are special cases, but in general there are many ways to say things in every language.... rather simple, pretty simple, quite simple... but those are all different words. We're looking for the best fit english meaning that matches up with "bastante".
I thought "simples" had to follow the rule about number. So, even though aparelho is singular, we use the plural form simples? Can simple be used?
"Simples" is not a plural form; this adjective is invariable, i.e. it has the same form regardless of gender and number.
Is there thus no such word as ‘simple’ in Portuguese – it’s always ‘simples’?
That's a very good question. I'm still not entirely certain.
From what I have gleaned thus far "bastante" and "muito" can mean either "a lot of/very much/very" or "too much/too" depending on the context, whereas "tanto simples" (or should that be "tão simples?) is more like "so simple", but if something is "so simple" it's very simple haha.
But then we have words like "quite" which I have discovered means something different for different English speakers. This is Google's translation of "quite":
[kwīt] ADVERB to the utmost or most absolute extent or degree; absolutely; completely: "it's quite out of the question" · synonyms: completely · entirely · totally · wholly · absolutely
to a certain or fairly significant extent or degree; fairly: "it's quite warm outside" · synonyms: fairly · rather · somewhat · slightly · relatively
I remain befuddled :/
And what I just said probably didn't clean anything up for you, but I find these types of discussions mind boggling haha
The second meaning applies here. "quite simple" is used like "quite warm". So, it is not as strong as "very simple" or "muito simples" and even less than "so simple" or "tanto simples".
Is this trying to say that its not a complex device? That is, it is pretty straightforward? Hard to understand the translation.
Yes, I believe in the context of someone asking how to use a device or possibly a salesperson giving a pitch, they might say "The device is really quite simple to use... see for yourself" or something along those lines.
Previously, this word meant "brace" as in leg braces. How do you know this is now "device" as opposed to a brace without context?
This comes from the fact that "a brace" was just considered "an apparatus" at first and still uses that word in Portuguese. "A device" is a different kind of "apparatus". http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apparatus http://dictionary.reverso.net/portuguese-english/aparelho http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-portuguese/brace
An apparatus is a tool or piece of equipment used for specific activities. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apparatus' A contraption is a piece of equipment or machinery that is unusual or strange. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contraption There can at times be an overlap, but not every apparatus is a contraption. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/device An apparatus is a device, but not every device is an apparatus.