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It's a good point. Just as there is a difference in many countries with these fruits, sometimes in some places, as others have indicated, the two lexemes are synonyms. Similarly, tomate and jitomate are distinguished in places such as in the central-southern parts of Mexico the former is green (what we call tomatillos) while the latter is the red variety we call tomatoes. Here's a link to that topic: http://www.raecrothers.ca/blog/mexican-spanish-peculiarities-tomate-and-jitomate/
Where do you want to use las? With plátanos? Plátano is a masculine noun, so it would have to be "los plátanos".
The article is not used here because we're neither talking about specific bananas, nor are we making a generalisation. It's just an undefined portion of bananas.
English has words that work as either a noun or an action as well. E.g. you can run (an action), or you can go for a run (a noun). You can go shopping (a verb), or you can help carry the shopping (aka the groceries - a noun - I think this is more commonly used in British than American English). You can usually tell if it's a noun or a verb by how it's used in the sentence. In this case, with the nos in front, it must be the verb, "he/she/it buys us [something]".
Hope that helps!
As far as I can tell, if you are buying it for a direct "thing" you could use "para"
Mom always buys bananas for joe = Mamá siempre compra plátanos para Joe
If you are using for "buying for him", "for you", "them", "us" , etc you use the "indirect object pronoun" . "me , te , le ",etc
Mom always buys bananas for HIM = Mamá siempre LE compra plátanos
Mom always buys bananas for US = Mamá siempre NOS compra plátanos
Copy this next text into Google translate to get the idea .... it's what I did to help to learn this....although I still get a bit confused :-) [don't let the platanos/bananas sideshow distract you - even Google just makes a random choice]
Mom always buys bananas. Mom always buys bananas for joe Mom always buys bananas for christmas Mom always buys bananas for the office Mom always buys bananas for the pet Mom always buys bananas for me Mom always buys bananas for you Mom always buys bananas for him Mom always buys bananas for them Mom always buys bananas for us Mom always buys us bananas.
The conjugation of a verb depends the subject, the person(s) or thing(s) performing the action.
"[Ellos/ellas] compran" is "they buy" (or "[ustedes] compran", "you (plural) buy") regardless of how many things they are buying. Since mamá is just one person you need the singular "el/ella" conjugation, "compra", no matter how many things she buys.
while this is a SPANISH learning tool, when translating to English, Duolingo should recognize acceptable english variations, such as "buys for us" and "buys us" -- the latter is more common, but feels WRONG. She is NOT purchasing "US", she is buying FOR us the item then specified.