"What do we pay for the food with?"
Translation:Womit bezahlen wir das Essen?
This is one situation where the German sentence is actually simpler than the English.
Ok, so we want to "pay for something". Like, you've ordered food in a restaurant and now you need to give money for it. The verb for this is German is bezahlen. In English you usually need a preposition as well: the word "for", as in "We pay for the food". German does not need a preposition: It's simply Wir bezahlen das Essen. The direct object of bezahlen is the thing being paid for.
There are many other ways of adding more information to this simple sentence. You could ask "How do we pay for the food?" or "Who pays for the food?" or "Where do I pay for the food?". The question here is "With what do I pay for the food?" (i.e. "cash" or "credit card" or "Euros"). In English you've got the flexibility of splitting the "with what", giving the phrasing in Duolingo's example. In German, that's not possible here - because "with what" is actually one word in German: womit.
You might thing that it should be mit was but that's not so. There's a general category of German 'question-words' that are made up of wo- and a preposition. You can think of it as a compulsory contraction, if you want. You've got womit, wovon, wonach, wofür... and sometimes you need to add in an extra letter to make it sound good: woraus, worüber, worauf.... You can find more information about these words here.
When asking a question in German with a question-word, it goes first. Then you've got the verb in second position as usual. The subject then has to come next, because it's been bumped out of first spot. Duolingo explains questions more on the lesson tips page.
You missed the last word: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/questions-2/tips
You are correct, "What do we pay for the food with?" is a bit unusual for an English speaker to actually say. It's not quite how people would talk. If I were in such a situation to say such a comment I'd probably say something like:
"How are we paying [for this food]?" (meaning, with what and by whom),
or "What are we paying with?" (assuming we just now discovered we have no money)
There are many ways to say the same things. But, with Duolingo, they seem to toss us the most unused, unusual, and unnatural word phrases I've ever heard. It would be nice if the phrases they gave us were things we could actually use: "I don't see my bike.", "How much is the pizza?", "Where is the train station?", "Is the restaurant open?", "More beer, please!"
But, "The bear drinks my beer", "The humans are reading a newspaper", and "My cat wears trousers" are all phrases never spoken by mankind for any reason what-so-ever. Maybe a bit cute and funny at first, but come the 50th it's just annoying.
i enjoyed this reply until you started complaining. the reason the english phrases seem strange is because theyre the simplest way to get the concepts of the german sentences across, for example this sentence. they're trying to communicate that "womit" means "with what" because that's a word that's used in german and if you don't learn it then you're gonna be confused in a real german-speaking situation.
as for the silly ones like my cat wears trousers... it's just a sentence. it makes perfect sense in english, and its an effective way to communicate the grammar rules. why be upset that something is a little bit silly or abstract, if it does its job anyway? i could even argue that its more effective if something silly or fun sticks better in the mind.
The first sentence is very awkward (With what do we use to pay for the food) but uses the words Duolingo used but without ending in a prepositional phrase. Normally we would just say "How are we paying for the food" or "What are we using to pay for the food". Hence the "more precisely" comment..
Lebensmittel is almost always used in the plural: die Lebensmittel.
In the singular, I suppose it might be something like "the foodstuff". Or perhaps "the victual", to give an idea of how rarely the singular is used.
Also, it's important to remember that Lebensmittel are basically raw materials. They're the things you buy in a shop.
Once you've prepared them, cooked them, especially if you've combined several raw materials together (e.g. potatoes + leeks + water into a soup), you have Essen rather than Lebensmittel, though in English you can call both of them "food".
Why it is womit not was
mit was (with what) turns into womit (with what).
As a general rule, preposition + was turns into a single word, wo(r)- + preposition: womit, wobei, woran, worunter, worüber, wozu, wofür, etc. instead of mit was, bei was, an was, unter was, über was, zu was, für was, etc.
Similarly with preposition + es or preposition + das which turn into da(r)- + preposition: damit, dabei, daran, darunter, darüber, dazu, dafür, etc. instead of mit es, mit das, etc..
Eh? What kind of "natives"?
Also, womit is a German word and vomit is an English word (and it doesn't mean "belch", at least not to my knowledge). They're not (usually) stressed on the same syllable, either.
I don't think that pair would cause a lot of problems.
I think learners tend to have more difficulties with wo = where and wer = who, or with the fact that sie (in German) and you (in English) seem to have so many meanings.