The pronounciation of "veut" is pretty sloppy in the robo-voice, it sounds more like "eu" to me in this instance.
What makes lui feminine in this sentence? Also, doesn't this sentence mean, "I want him to respond"?
The verb is constructed with an indirect object: répondre à = respond to. When you move the object from names/nouns to pronouns, here is what happens:
- Paul veut répondre à Peter -> Paul veut lui répondre
- Paul veut répondre à Marie -> Paul veut lui répondre
- Marie veut répondre à Peter -> Marie veut lui répondre
- Marie veut répondre à Claire -> Marie veut lui répondre
It is something you have to learn (there is no logical reason for that) : -1- the pronoun is placed in front of the verb -2- the feminine and the masculine forms are identical to mean "à lui" or "à elle" -3- the plural of "lui" is "leur": il veut leur répondre (feminine, masculine or mixed)
"Il veut" (he wants) is not the impersonnel and defective "il faut" (it is necessary to), so the subject "I" does not have any role here. Your proposal "I want him to respond" translates to "je veux qu'il réponde".
There is no way to know the gender of the "lui". It is a male who wants to respond, but we do not know if he wants to respond to a male or to a female. This is a confusing question because it is impossible to know whether to write "him" or "her". Are both answers accepted by Duolingo?
If they are not, they should be. I used her, just because I wanted to, and it was accepted.
I know it may sound silly, but why did we use "lui repondre" not "le repondre"?
the verb is "répondre à quelqu'un", so when the "someone" is represented by a 3rd person pronoun, you have to use "lui" (masculine and feminine alike).