It means plenty in English. It means that some female person has some unspecified quantity of H20 and is transferring it to some indeterminate person.
Would it be better if it were "Sie gibt Küsse"? Or "Sie gibt Umarmungen"?
The sentences die Eule presents may not be something you would say or agree with, but they are not devoid of meaning.
Sure it has meaning, but it's not a natural wording. I have never heard and would never say that sentence. I can't think of any situation to which it would even apply. If she's at a charity event or a race, I might say "She is handing out water" or "She hands out water." At a restaurant she would serve the water. Does she give gifts of water at Christmas time? Give would never be used.
The problem with the answer being unnatural is that it's harder for someone learning the language to understand the subtle meanings. If "sie gibt Wasser" means "she gives water," then I will never use "sie gibt Wasser" and I honestly don't know if I'm right or not.
Come on, Duolingo. Stop teaching such nonsense sentences. I don't mind bears buying newspapers or babies showing dresses to women as long as these sentences teach a useful pattern. But Sie gibt Wasser is not a German sentence at all.
X (noun, nom.) gibt Y (noun, acc.) is not a productive pattern in German. There are some idiomatic phrases that follow this pattern (Sie gibt eine Party / She throws a party), but you cannot use this pattern to produce new meaningful sentences.
When you add a dative object to the sentence, you get a productive pattern:
X (noun, nom.) gibt Y (noun, dat.) Z (noun, akk.).
Sie gibt dem Kind Wasser.
Simplistic, yes; meaningless, no:
- Kühe geben Milch.
- Weihnachtsmann gibt Geschenke.
- Freiwillige geben Zeit.
- Du gibst Kritik.
- Ich gebe Beispiele.
I still don't think it is a pattern that should be taught. Sie gibt Wasser is meaningless, and I wouldn't expect anyone to learn anything from it.
- Kühe geben Milch is idiomatic. Not the standard meaning of to give. If you say Ich gebe Milch, you might hear questions such as Who milks you or How many liters a day?
- Weihnachtsmann gibt Geschenke doesn't sound German at all. In Germany bringt der Weihnachtsmann Geschenke.
- Du gibst Kritik doesn't sound German either. You would say Du übst Kritik.
- Freiwillige geben Zeit is ok, but then it's idiomatic again, to give meaning to donate.
- Ich gebe Beispiele is acceptable, though Ich gebe Ihnen (einige) Beispiele is more frequently used.
If this were the only pattern being taught, then I'd agree with you. But it's one of many, and it does have value. Certainly it is not the highest-value lesson, but that's a far cry from having no value.
I still think this sentence is nonsensical, doesn't sound German at all, and should therefore be removed as soon as possible.
None of which illustrate the dative case, which is the lesson, after all.
I don't understand what's special about this sentence. Isn't it just Nominative?
Sentences are not Nominativ, Dativ, Genitiv, oder Akkusativ. Sentences have all or some of those components. The sentence "Sie gibt Wasser," for example, has a Nominativ, the pronoun sie (she) and einen Akkusativ, the direct object Wasser (water).
Do "give" and "serve" really mean the same thing? Is there no difference between being "given" something and being "served" something?
On your birthday, do your friends and family "serve" you presents? At a restaurant, would you prefer a waiter who "gives" you dinner or "serves" you dinner?
Does a priest "serve" God, or does he just "give to" God?
And although there is an unfortunate tendency in today's electorate to conflate the two concepts, being a public servant is far more than just being a "giver", and sometimes requires being a taker as well.
Certainly "give" and "serve" are different. However, most words have more than one meaning, in German as well as English. The Duolingo definition included "serve".
So, "give" and "serve" are different words, having different connotations and subtleties. Circumstances lead to one being the better, more appropriate choice over the other. In the absence of additional information--for example, "Im Restaurant gibt sie uns Wasser" where it might be sensible to use "serve" instead of give--it is best to use forms of "give" for sentences with "geben", and "serve" for sentences with dienen.
I suspect--and we would need one of die Muttersprachler here to confirm this--that if a German wishes to impart the sense of "serve water", he would say dienen Wasser. Otherwise, geben means "give".