"The bear eats an apple."
Translation:L'ours mange une pomme.
Regarding the definite articles "le" or "la" the significance of gender is lost. However, you still have to pay attention to gender if you want to add an adjective or a relative pronoun later on.
I don't know what you mean by "attribution".
anyhow, l'ours is le + ours (masculine) but le is elided (drop the e and replace it by an apostrophe), to ease translation whenever the noun starts with a vowel or a non-aspired H:
le chien - l'ours (masculine)
la chienne - l'ourse (feminine)
l'honneur (masc) - l'huile (fem)
Duolingo needs to teach us and be more specific with the fem and masc articles.
Haven't you found the "Tips&Notes" at the bottom of each Skill main page?
The tips & notes are only visible on the website. If you're one of the thousands of people utilizing the mobile apps on phone or ipad, it doesn't give you the option to view the notes.
How come the "s" in "ours" is audible? The last consonant without being followed by a vowel shouldn't be spelled! Am I wrong here?
It is one of many exceptions to the rule you will find. I.e., that's just the way it is. http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires-prononciation/francais/ours/003795
I have yet to figure out when it is appropriate to contract. It gets me every time.
If the noun begins with a vowel (or a vowel sound), you must contract the definite article:
- l'homme (m) : contraction is required because homme starts with a vowel sound.
- l'araignée (f) : contraction is required because araignée starts with a vowel.
- la pomme (f) : no contraction (ever)
- le pain (m) : no contraction (ever)
If you keep posting stuff with translations like this it will give people the answers to things