I have read that τί "what?" should have an accent to distinguish it from τι "because" (short form of γιατί), but I don't think I've ever seen τι in the wild (I suppose it's mostly poetic) I don't think there is much scope for confusion if you write "what?" as τι without accent.
Well, in English it means that you want to know the things (subject) that are reading the children (object). That is: some things (more that one) are reading the children, the children are not reading something, they are being read by something.
When an interrogative pronoun is the subject, it is followed by the verb as in a positive statement (so no need of do/does/did... unless it's a negative question); when it is not, it needs the inversion of the verb (and hence the auxiliary). For example:
John bought a book.
You see him carrying a gift box and ask: "What did John buy?"
You see that a book is missing in the shelf and ask: "Who bought a book?"
(In Greek I can only use the present, at... present, sorry):
Τι αγοράζει ο Γιάννη;
Ποιος αγοράζει το βιβλίο;
Τι could be both nominative and accusative, (subject or object), but ο Γιάννη can only be the subject. -> ο Γιάννη is the subject, he buys something, we want to know what.
Ποιος can only be the subject, and το βιβλίο could be both subject or object, so in the end it's the object: we know somebody buys a book, and ask for that person.
In "Τι διαβάζουν τα παιδιά;", both Τι and τα παιδιά could be subject and object, we know the subject is τα παιδιά because the verb has a plural form.
HTH (and doesn't make more confusion!)
Please allow me to make some corrections to avoid misunderstandings.
Well, in English it means that you want to know the things (subject) that are reading the children (object).
This should be: "You want to know what the children are reading."
the children are not reading something, they are being read by something. In this exercise..."Τι διαβάζουν τα παιδιά;" it really means "What are the children reading?" the children themselves are reading something.
The should be "Ο Γιάννης"
Sorry, I was not clear enough. I was trying to explain the error.
I meant that "what are reading the children" in English is wrong because the sentence structure makes "what" the subject, in this case.
So "what are reading the children" is: "tell me the things that (subj.) are reading the children (obj.)"
The same as in "What won John?": John was defeated (eg: by a weapon) and you want to know what (subj) won him (obj, here we see a rare case of accusative).
If somebody tells you that John won a prize, and you want to know what (obj) he (sub) won, you must use inversion and an auxiliary: What did John win?
The should be "Ο Γιάννης"
Ouch! yes, of course, thanks for the correction :-)
Don't be confused by the English which uses: "What are the children reading? Greek does not have that form.
The Greek sentence:
"Τι διαβάζουν τα παιδιά;"
"What do the childre read? and "What are the children reading?" One form in Greek for two forms in English.
These hints will show you how to always have the right translation.
TIPS TO HELP YOU LEARN
1 Use the Drop-Down hints to help you translate. Pass your cursor over a word and a list of translations will appear. The top word/phrase is the best choice
This will assure that you always have the right translation. It's the secret to success. Do not hesitate to use these as often as you need to.
2 Read the Tips & notes, on the first page of each lesson you’ll see TIPS. Click on that.
3 Always read the comments before posting. Check the heading on the page to see the sentence and its translation. Click on any blue words for more definitions.
4 If your translation is rejected you should carefully compare what you wrote with the answer given. If you do not see a mistake use the Report options at the foot of the exercise page to Report issues such as My answer should be accepted.