In this case, yes. There are two clues that it is 'elles' and not 'elle'. The first one is the liason. The 's' at the end of 'elles' is pronounced before the é, so ot sounds like "el seh-kreev" The second one is the conjugation of the verb. It sounds with a v sound at the end, whereas if it were singular (écris, if I'm not mistaken), it would sound like "el eh-kree". Dont completely trust this, though...
This is why it is important to be sure to always listen to the normal speed sentence. I usually play it at the end if I need the slow version at all. Turtle speed only gives individual word pronunciation, but its the translation between two words that is so often important when understanding differences in plurality.
They shouldnt have named him Jesus cuz every time you call him you are taking the Lords Name in vain. I do not know why so many people in Islamic countries are named Mohammed and if you take his name in vain once you are killed by ISIS
Des means "some" as well, though it's not a definition given in this and other examples when you tap the word individually. I'm still beginning, but if my mother language, Portuguese, another Latin language, is any reference, the word "des" is not necessary and you could probably omit it. Someone else should confirm that though.
In order to answer your question I´m pretty much copying pasting Duolingo´s tips. (Very first lesson)
In English, articles may be omitted, but French nouns almost always have an article. French has three types of articles:
Definite articles ("the") are used with specific nouns that are known to the speakers.(le, la , les)
Indefinite articles ("a"/"an"/"one") are used for countable nouns that are unspecified or unknown to the speakers. (un , une , des)
Partitive articles ("some"/"any") indicate a quantity of something uncountable.(du/de l', de la/de l')
You're right that using "être en train de" corrensponds to using the English "-ing" form (present progressive).
However it is also fine to translate the "-ing" form by just the normal present, because French has no present progressive. The expression "être en train de" is only used when it is necessary to specify that the action is happening right now.
When you have verb forms ending in -ent, you don't pronnounce the ending. I think it's because since e's are not usually pronounced unless they have an accent mark, there is no spoken vowel to link the end of the verb's stem (a consonant) to the "-nt" (more consonants). By dropping the pronunciation of -ent, the words sound a lot smoother.
"Des" is the plural indefinite article. English does not have this article, so it may not be obvious to you how to use it. But look at it this way:
Singular: the letter - la lettre. Plural: the letters - les lettres.
Singular: a letter - une lettre. Plural: [no article in English] letters - des lettres.
After a while, you will get a feeling for where this "missing" article is in English sentences and you will automatically insert it in French :-)
Could you be clearer in English? If your question is difficult to understand, few can answer it. But "des" is actually in the sentence unless my eyes and ears deceive me. In English, you can say "writing/write letters" or "writing/write some letters." The point is that letters (plural), meaning "some letters," are being written.
I hope I did (if that was to me). Wish I could've done a better job. If you read the whole thread, you'll see that some explained it much better. I try to remember to read what others have written and often find that the very question I had has been explained in a very clear way.
It's because there's no "the" in the sentence. The sentence "Elles écrivent des lettres" translates to either "They are writing letters" or "They are writing some letters". If you wanted to say "They write the letters" it would be "Elles écrivent les lettres". Hope this helps!
I played that over and over and over, 25 to 30 times, at least! There was no way to know she was speaking of multiple people AND multiple letters. Elle ecrit de lettre ( think that's what I wrote) should have been accepted. Even if it's incorrect grammar, because THAT is exactly what she said!