"Do you see the plates?"
Translation:Вы видите тарелки?
Does тарелка also mean UFO? I swear I heard a Russian person use the word in that way on TV.
Лета́ющая таре́лка ‘flying saucer, flying plate’ can mean ‘UFO’.
Тарелка without an adjective wouldn’t probably be understood as a reference to UFO unless you have a context that makes it clear.
Note: The Russian Spelling Rules cause the declension table plural ending of -ы to be change to -и because it comes after the к in тарелк-.
Why is the sentence "Ты тарелки видишь?" not a possible translation? "You" can mean "ты" and "вы", so that I don't see why the correct answer is restricted to the formal address.
The word order is not very good. Normally, when the direct object is a noun or a phrase, it's put after the verb. Only direct objects expressed by pronouns are used before the verb.
If you switch «таре́лки» and «ви́дишь», you show that one of those words should be emphasised by intonation («Ты таре́лки ви́дишь» wouldn't be read with a default neutral intonation by a native speaker, only with «таре́лки» or «ви́дишь» emphasised).
«Ты таре́лки ви́дишь?» with «таре́лки» emphasised means 'Are the things you're seeing plates?'. «Ты таре́лки ви́дишь?» with «ви́дишь» emphasised adds a tone of annoyance to the sentence, as if the listener should have noticed the plates long ago. I believe both these meanings don't really correspong to the neutral English sentence.
Your argumentation seems plausible. However, when I translated the sentence again to "Вы тарелки видите?", I did not change the word order and this version was still accepted.
Can't I say "Ты видите тарелки" ? Does it always have to be "вы" when asking a question?
You can use «ты», but then you need to change the verb form to match it:
- Вы видите тарелки?
- Ты видишь тарелки?
Mismatching the verb and the subject (ты видите, вы видишь) is incorrect. People won’t know if you’re trying to be polite or familiar. Although the main point of the question would be understandable, of course.