Short answer: No, it couldn't be Buch here. Firstly, "books" is plural in English so you have to use the plural form in German. Secondly, if it were singular it would have to be ein Buch or das Buch, just like you can't say "we read book" in English but always have to say "a book" or "the book".
Longer answer: You could say that there is in fact an article there, a "zero article" which marks indefinite plural. It just so happens that this article has the form "" (i.e. nothing). This is the same in English as well. The plural of "the book" is "the books", but the plural of "a book" is just "books" with apparently no article, or the zero article. So if you translate from or to English you don't have to think about anything at all for plural nouns; if there is no article in German, don't add one while translating to English and the other way around.
To put it another way, both in English and in German a singular noun always needs a determiner, usually an article but there are a few other words which can fill that role, for example possessive pronouns ("my, his, their") or a few special words like "no" or "any". A plural noun can occur without a determiner, in which case it is understood by default as indefinite plural. So you could say when people hear the sentence, their subconscious goes: "ah, I heard no determiner, so it must be the invisible (or rather inaudible) indefinite plural article".
Hope that helps.
liest is the 2nd person singular du liest ‘you (one person) read’ or the 3rd person singular: er/sie/es liest = ‘he/she/it reads‘. lesen is either 1) the infinitive ‘to read’, 2) the 1st person plural wir lesen ‘we read’, or 3) the 3rd person plural: sie lesen ‘they read’ (these three forms are identical for almost all verbs).
Here the full present tense paradigm for comparison (note the vowel change in 2.sing and 3.sing):
- 1st singular: ich lese ‘I read/I am reading’
- 2nd singular: du liest ‘you (1 person) read/you are reading’
- 3rd singular: er/sie/es liest ‘he/she/it reads/he/she/it is reading’
- 1st plural: wir lesen ‘we read/we are reading’
- 2nd plural: ihr lest ‘you (more than 1 person) read/you are reading’
- 3rd plural: sie lesen ‘they read/they are reading’
(The polite 2nd person form with Sie is always identical to the ‘they’-form, just with Sie capitalised.)
If you can read IPA: [ˈbyːçɐ] or if you're speaking rather carefully [ˈbyːçɛɐ̯].
I'm guessing your problem is either with the "ü" or the "ch"?
"ü" it's what's called a high front rounded vowel. I see you're learning French and Turkish; both of these have this vowel as well: It appears for example in French "tu" or Turkish "güle". If that doesn't help you, try pronouncing English "ee" (as in "see" and round your lips the same way as you do while pronouncing "oo" (as in "shoot").
"ch" has a number of different pronunciations. After "ä, e, i, ü, ö, eu, äu", it is always (apart from certain loanwords) [ç] which is the sound you have at the beginning of "huge". After "a, o, u" it is usually [χ], which is the sound you have in "Loch Ness" (in the proper native pronunciation, not like "lock").
Does that help you?
That's a very very rough approximation indeed. To give you an analogy, imagine a Japanese tourist came up to you and asked you where you could buy a "chīshatsu"; that's approximately how I'd feel if someone asked me about "Bewshair" without any contextual clues. I probably would work it out but it would require quite a bit of prior knowledge about what sounds are hard for English speakers and how they might try to approximate them. So people who don't have a lot of experience with English-speakers might not be able to guess it at all, just like you probably can't guess what our hypothetical Japanese from before wants from you unless you know something about Japanese/Japanese accent in English already (he's asking about a t-shirt btw.)
Bottom line, I think approximations, unless they're very close even in the ear of a native speaker, can often do more harm than good. Generally it's worth the effort of spending enough time to train your ears and mouth for the new sound.
When I lived in Berlin, I was often complemented on my German pronunciation. I can't say why other than I have a good ear for language. One day I was having a conversation with some German friends when we encountered the American consul to Munich. His German was fluent, but his American accent bad. "How come you don't sound like an American?" I was asked by my friends. The only answer I could give was "I try to sound like you." It no doubt helped that my first teacher was a native German who drilled proper pronunciation into us. Bottom line, while I agree with you about approximations, in a forum like Duo it's difficult to answer questions about proper pronunciation. Some get it, others don't.
That's true of course, it's extremely hard to explain sounds in writing. IPA does help, but most non-specialists can't read it, and even if you can it's more subjective than some linguists like to admit.
Luckily the audio on Duolingo is usually quite good. The bigger problem in my eyes is the lack of feedback on your prounciation attempts, so you it's hard to tell if you figured a sound out or not.
I don't think one can learn proper pronunciation of any language simply by hearing it. If you want to hear what is, in my opinion, a bad American accent, just listen to the audio on the German to English course. When I lived in Berlin, my Wirtin would remark "ah, you were out with Americans last night". The key to proper pronunciation is to practice speaking. Some can lose an accent, some can't.
Boo-hya is pretty close to get the /ç/ sound (like the h in hue or human), but the first part could use a little work.
The vowel in Buch is /u/ like you'd expect (plus the ch like in Scottish loch because u is a dark vowel), but the vowel in Bücher is /y/, which is a little lighter. Try saying "bee" but rounding your lips like you're going to say "boo". That's the ü sound, it should sound very stereotypically French, German or maybe even Swedish. There's a voice recording on this page under the big "y" symbol:
If you want to get even more accurate on other words, there's also the short version /ʏ/, but I'm not going to explain it right now partly because this is a long post already and partly because I don't fully know how to explain it yet. :D
Context. I know that's an unsatisfying answer, but that's really all there is. Or to phrase it differently: For native German speakers there is no difference. Well, of course we know that there is a difference between an action that is performed right now and a habitual one, but that's something we don't encode in our language. Which makes learning to differentiate the two in English a challenge for German speakers (albeit one which is encountered very early on so most people do get the hang of it at some point).
It's just like how English doesn't differentiate dative and accusative case. Of course you know the difference between something/one that you perform an action on and someone you perform an action for, it's just not a grammatical category for you, so learning that new category needs some effort.
I struggled for awhile trying to find this out since I never seen it in the tips and notes, so hopefully this tip helps (correct me if im wrong) but when you are referring to one or more people or objects, the verb automatically takes the -en ending or the ending used with "Wir, Sie (they), and Sie (formal) Examples include:. Die Frau und der Mann essen. Der Hund und die Katze speilen. Ich und du sind Menschen. (Keep note that even "sind" isn't bin or bist as the proper endings for Ich und Du would be, it changes. I hope this helped :)
Spelling correction: It should be spielen rather than *speilen ;) Also in terms of style, du und ich sounds much better than ich und du (although that’s not outright wrong of course).
But apart from these minor issues you are correct, the first person plural (wir), third person plural (sie = “they”) – and by extension the polite second person (Sie = “you”) which is derived from the “they” form – always share the same verb form. Note though that the second person plural (ihr) form is different.
There is no such word as “liesen”.
Do you ask because you hear a long “i” instead of a long “e”? It’s a common problem for native speakers of certain languages (most notably English but most likely also of other languages which don’t have long “e”, such as Arabic or Filipino). Don’t worry, your brain will learn to notice the difference with a little bit of training. If you want to practice actively, you can open two tabs of google translate, let it read out word pairs which only differ in that one sound – leben and lieben or Regel and Riegel for example – and then try to hear the difference and see if you can reproduce it yourself. It is often easier to get used to new sound differences when you have both versions side by side. And when you think you’ve got it, you can ask someone else to play them at random without you looking at the screen, so you can guess which is which.
I hope that helps.
There are different possibilities.
- learn the unicode character codes by heart and then type that code while holding Alt pressed (e.g. “ü” is Alt+129). Disadvantage: you have to learn the codes by heart.
- install a German keyboard layout (it’s not permanently changed, you can switch to and from it at a button’s press). This tells you how. Disadvantage: You have to get used to a few keys (particularly special characters) being in a different place. Not many though.
- install an international English keyboard which lets you enter those characters using button combinations (“ü” for example is Alt+y on the US-international one, I believe). Disadvantage: non-ASCII characters like “ü” are a bit more of a hassle than with the German one, but you don’t have to get used to the changed characters on the German keyboard.
- on certain systems you may have a “combine” key which lets you input special characters through combinations of other characters. For example “ü” is typically Combine+"+u. You do have to learn the combinations but they are a lot less arbitrary than the unicode values and in my opinion even more intuitive than the international keyboards because similar cominations get similar codes (e.g. all umlauts are entered with Combine+"+[letter]). Disadvantage: To my knowledge not available on Windows.
Until you have set up and gotten used to one of these solutions, you can substitute umlauts with the base letter + e (for example, write “ae” for “ä”). This is the normal practice in contexts where umlaut characters are not allowed (for example in URL’s or in crossword puzzles).
liest is the second person singular (du) form or the third person singular (he/she/it) form. lesen is either the infinitive “to read” or the first person plural (we) form, or the third person plural (they) form. These three are the same for pretty much all verbs (sein is the only exception I can think of).
Here the full present tense paradigm for lesen for comparison:
- 1st singular: ich les-e (I read/am reading)
- 2nd singular: du lies-t (you (1 person) read/are reading)
- 3rd singular: er/sie/es lies-t (he/she/it reads/is reading)
- 1st plural: wir les-en (we read/are reading)
- 2nd plural: ihr les-t (you (2 or more people) read/are reading)
- 3rd plural: sie les-en (they read/are reading)
Also the formal second person form is always identical to the third person plural, just with a capital S- on the pronoun: Sie les-en.
This page might help explain it better https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zy3qxsg/revision/2
- “What do you read in school? Do you read books or magazines?
- We read books.”
But of course “we are reading books” is just as correct, given the right context, and both should be accepted answers above. Probably the only reason why the simple present version was chosen for the model solution is in order to not confuse learners too much too early :)
The "are" is a helping verb in English to form the present continous form "are reading".
German doesn't have a present continuous form; it just has one present tense which can translate either into English "we read" or "we are reading".
The "are" comes from the rules of English grammar, not from anything in the German sentence -- the two languages are different here.
Similarly, when we ask a question, English often has to use a helping verb "do" (e.g. "did you read the book?") which is not present in German. In such a case, translation may involve adding or removing helping verbs when the grammar of the two languages is different.
They are the same in German, yes.
This is explained in the tips and notes for the first unit: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Basics-1/tips-and-notes (see section "No continuous aspect").
Which of those tenses is appropriate depends on the context.
In general, we use present progressive (are reading) for things that are happening right now, and present simple (read) for actions that are repeated or habitual or for things that are always true.
If there is no context telling you whether this is a current action or a repeated one, then either translation may be appropriate, and then both translations should be accepted.
Countable nouns in German generally have to have a determiner in front of them in the singular (e.g. an indefinite article), much as in English.
Wir lesen Buch is not correct for the same reason that "We read book" is not correct.
It would have to be "We read a book" or "We read this book" or "We read our book" or "We read the book" or something like that -- but not simply "We read book".
Wir lesen Buch is wrong for the same reason that "We are reading book" is wrong.
Countable nouns such as Buch / book need some kind of determiner in front of them in the singular, such as an indefinite article or the number "one", as a general rule.
You can say, "We are reading one book" or "We are reading a book". But you can't say "We are reading book."
And similarly you can say, Wir lesen ein Buch. But you can't say Wir lesen Buch.
(There are some combinations of verb + noun where this works, such as Wir fahren Fahrrad, where fahrradfahren / Fahrrad fahren is sort of like a verb of its own, but buchlesen / Buch lesen is not such a verb.)
The best translation is “We read books.” In order for it to be “the books”, there would have to be a definite article in the German sentence, too: “Wir lesen die Bücher.” (die being the accusative plural form of the definite article which we would need here).
I don’t think translating “some” is particularly ideal here, either, as that would be closer to “ein paar Bücher”, but I suppose depending on the situation “We are reading books” can mean “We are reading books.” But I guess the biggest reason this is accepted is because with certain nouns (namely those which you cannot directly count like “water” or “air”), you would normally add a “some” in English where in German we don’t: Ich trinke Wasser. “I’m drinking (some) water.”
liest is the verb form for du or er, sie, es -- du liest = you read, you are reading; er liest = he reads, he is reading; sie liest = she reads, she is reading.
But the subject here is not "you" (one person) nor "he" nor "she"; it is "we" and so you need a different verb form: wir lesen "we read, we are reading".
You have to use the appropriate verb form for the subject.
Much as in English "I" always goes with "am" and never with "is", and "you" always goes with "are" and never with "am" etc., so you have
- ich lese
- du liest
- er, sie, es liest
- wir lesen
- ihr lest
- sie lesen
and those endings (-e, -st, -t; -en, -t, -en) are very common across all verbs.
(In this case, du liest and er liest look the same because lies-st gets simplified to liest rather than liesst.)
No, there is no dedicated progressive (“to be …ing”) form in German (there is in some dialects, but not in the standard language). In other words, we don’t have different forms for between “reads” and “is reading”. If we really really need to stress that something is happening right now (which actually isn’t all that often, usually context is enough), we add an adverb such as gerade “right now”.
No, Wir sind lesen Bücher is not correct in German.
You can't translate "we are reading" word by word -- "are reading" is the present continuous verb tense in English and translates into the German present tense lesen. German does not need a helping verb here like English does.
There is no difference in German. We use normal present tense regardless of whether the action is happening right now or happens regularly. Usually it’s pretty easy to tell from context, and in those rare cases where it isn’t you can always add an adverb like gerade “right now” or regelmäßig “regularly”. For single sentences devoid of context like in Duolingo, simple present and present continuous translations should both be accepted.
The form of the verb depends on the subject. liest (not *leist ;) ) is the second or third person singular form, that is the correct form if the subject is either a single person “you“ or a “he/she/it”. lesen is either first or third person plural, that is the correct form if the subject is either we or they (or the polite Sie which evolved from the pronoun they). The full present tense paradigm for reference:
- ich lese
- du liest
- er/sie/es liest
- wir lesen
- ihr lest
- sie/Sie lesen
why not we read books???
That's also an accepted translation. Wir lesen Bücher can translate to either "We read books" or "We are reading books".
As you know if you have read all the comments on this page, standard German does not distinguish between the present simple and present continuous tenses of English -- there's just one present tense.
I get the man’s voice when I click on it now, so I can’t check the woman’s pronunciation, but I would be surprised if the vowel is so high as to become /li:zn/ because /i:/ and /e:/ are consistantly distinguished in German (in fact, although *liesen doesn’t exist by itself, it does contrast with lesen within other words: verlesen “to read out” vs Verliesen “dungeons (dative plural)”). In any case, the correct pronunciation of lesen is /le:zn/.
I still haven't find out lesen means read or are reading.
Standard German does not make this grammatical distinction.
The word is Bücher with a capital B and then an ü -- or ue if you can't write that (thus, Buecher).
bucher with a small b does not exist, and Bucher means "bookers" (i.e. people who book things -- trips, for example).
I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your question… This sentence isn’t past tense. If if was, the verb would be either in preterite (Wir lasen Bücher) or – more likely since preterite is largely restricted to narrative writing in modern German – perfect tense (Wir haben Bücher gelesen).
Verb forms are a poor spot with Duo. why Wir lesen Bücher and not Wir leist Bücher? Duo has not provided me enough explanations of when and how to change verb forms. Give me rules or guide lines. explain the reasoning. what are accusative vs other forms? why? when? and how? teach me! do not make me guess based on Duo hopping I see some pattern or detail in a few examples to intuit a reason when Duo has given no explanation.
I am getting so frustrated with Duo!
The verb form depends on the subject. Remember how in English you have to use a slightly different form whenever the subject is a third person singular (a “he/she/it”)? In German there is a special ending for every grammatical person (and in some verbs the du and he/she/it forms also feature a vowel change in the verb stem).
For the endings on lesen in particular as an example, please refer to multiple answers on this thread where different people (including myself) have already listed them.
Duo has not provided me enough explanations of when and how to change verb forms. Give me rules or guide lines. explain the reasoning. what are accusative vs other forms? why? when? and how? teach me!
Don't use the mobile app, then.
Use the website, https://www.duolingo.com/ .
Every lesson unit has grammar tips and notes associated with it.
Read those before starting the unit.
For example, the tips and notes for the "Accusative Case" unit are here: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Accusative-Case/tips-and-notes
It explains the conjugation of the verb lesen, among other things.
I found this page useful for explaining when you would uae each of those words.. it would help if Duo explained thia right after you answered (either correctly or incorrectly, as you might have just gotten lucky).. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zy3qxsg/revision/2