"levanta" is the Tú form (informal fpr,) of the imperative of "levantar". An imperative is a command/ The informal from is used with friends, children, etc. http://www.spanishdict.com/conjugate/levantar
Yosoybajo, above, says it is not clear. Actually, it is clear, when you recognize the Imperative construction of a verb.
Your answer "pick up" is not the best answer. One should learn the primary meanings of words. .."Pick up" is "recoger" in Spanish. http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/pick%20up
Sure it's imperative. It's also third person present.
Given that we don't have any context, duo tends to leave out subjects in sentences left right and center, and we can't smell what they mean -- both options should be accepted. Or the sentence should be changed, so learners won't get penalized for written a completely correct translation.
It's fine, but it is a bit confusing because "levanta" is both the indicative third person/second person formal and the imperative second person familiar: http://www.spanishdict.com/conjugate/levantar Another confusing point is that imperatives use the same conjugation as subjunctives with the exception of the second person familiar (and the "yo" form for which there is no imperative conjugation). See http://spanish.about.com/od/verbmoods/a/direct_commands.htm for a decent explanation.
Because Duolingo didn't put "Él/Ella levanta el plato". which would actually mean "He/She lifts the plate".
"Levanta el plato" is the imperative affirmative, an order. Ex: "Lift the plate, please".
I didn't recognize that Levanta is the imperative in this sentence until I started reading the comments here. I had answered "He raises the plate" (I was thinking of 'levantarse' or 'to get up/to raise oneself') which was accepted. However, it suggested as another correct solution "Lift the plate." There's just too much of a difference between those two 'correct' answers. 'Levanta' is also the third person singular present tense conjugation of levantar, so how is a person looking at this sentence supposed to know this is the imperative. Some exclamation marks (¡ !) would've made it more obvious.
Out of context either translation is fine, and as different as they are, both are correct. Within context it would be difficult to confuse the two, even though the written Spanish could be identical.
I get your point about including ¡ ! but keep in mind that exclamation marks are not a requirement of Spanish commands, and they can be used with Spanish statements, so their inclusion here would not explicitly define which form was intended.
Is the he, she, it form of a verb always used as a command. It seems that in this sentence someone is telling someone else to "lift the plate".
And to answer 3 sergeants question about "He picks up the plate" - so far I haven't seen levanta translated as "picks up". However we do get addition translations as the lessons progress. I wonder why these additional translations are not given the FIRST time a word is introduced. For example The doctor gets up at five. We were not given "gets up" the first I worked with this word, levanta.
I translated literally "Lifts the plate", understood absolutely as present tense third person. Here sometimes there are short phrases. My answer was "nearly correct", corrected "Lift the plate" and I am very surprised. Actually we have not gone as far as imperative forms it seems.
There are two answers, one using the imperative second person familiar, the other using the indicative third person/second person formal, but the latter needs a subject in English. Without the subject I'm guessing DL has assumed you were trying to answer using the imperative form of the verb, which would be the closest match in their database: Hence their correction.
Thanks... I could have sworn that (at least in Argentina), an accent on the 'a' would mean the phrase could only be interpreted as an order... are there any native Argentinean speakers which can confirm or deny if this might be a localised/regional thing?
In any case, how do you differentiate between an observation such as "(el/ella) levanta el plato" and a directive to "lift the plate"? Or are both meanings valid and the ambiguity only resolved by explicitly including el/ella?
De nada Damian. And, yep, both meanings are valid. The only hint that this is a command (apart from the theme of this lesson of course:) is that with indicative sentences DL normally includes an explicit subject, so they would say for example "Ella levanta el plato." The absence of a subject/subject pronoun gives us a clue that this is probably an imperative sentence. Of course, in reality, if the subject is already known through context then no subject/subject pronoun would be necessary and both the indicative (he/she/it/you formal) and the imperative (you familiar) would be identical in structure.