Essen Sie Äpfel? vs Essen Sie Äpfel.
Hi. What I mean by this is in the first sentence it's a question 'Essen Sie Äpfel?' 'Are you eating apples'. In the second sentence it's an order to the person 'Essen Sie Äpfel.' 'Eat apples'. Is there a way to distinguish between these two sentences or should I just rely on context?
The punctuation ("?") and the tone of voice (gets higher at the end of the sentence) would indicate a question.
But supposing you've been invited to a mafia boss's lair and he points at the bowl of apples on his desk, you might hear a tone of voice that doesn't make it clear if he's merely asking a question about your eating habits (in a matter-of-fact tone) or commanding you (in a matter-of-fact tone) to eat those apples (because that's how he'll poison you).
K so I guess you just ask them if you don't know. 'Are you asking me weather I eat apples or are you asking me to get killed by apples?' That is the question.
I suppose, given the circumstances, I'd tell the mafia boss, "Sorry, I don't like apples much." :)
In real life, I think people would often (in this specific case at least) use a different wording anyway, e.g. "Möchten Sie einen Apfel?" ("Would you like an apple?"), "Nehmen Sie sich doch einen Apfel" ("Have an apple."), "Mögen Sie Äpfel?" ("Do you like (= enjoy eating) apples?") (vs. "Möchten Sie Äpfel?" = "Would you like (some) apples?"); and if it's an imperative, I think they'd more likely tell you to eat an apple, not apples ("Essen Sie einen Apfel!").
But, yes, if you're unsure, e.g. when your doctor says, "Well, your [blood parameter] doesn't look too good. Essen Sie Äpfel", then you'd just have to ask. Or, "Kommen Sie mit auf die Feier" ("(Will you) Come along to the party").
In your case, the sentence finished by a full stop can be regarde as an imperative.
Why would he want you to eat at least two apples, wouldn’t one be enough if the poison were strong enough?