"Achtzehn Mädchen spielen"
Just had this in the Numbers section, and it is "eighteen girls are playing".
My question is, how would you distinguish "eighteen girls are playing" from "eighteen girls playing"? Since there is no separate word for "are" in the above sentence.
In German we have no progressive form so you need the usual structure to build a sentence.
Eighteen girls are playing at the playground. = Achtzehn Mädchen spielen auf dem Spielplatz.
Eighteen girls playing at the playground are very quiet. = Achtzehn spielende Mädchen auf dem Spielplatz sind sehr leise.
For the second sentence you would need a verb to make it complete.
The German sentence could mean "18 girls play" in English, but not "18 girls playing" as the later is not a complete sentence.
You usually can deduce whether present progressive or simple past is meant from the context (do they play regularly or are they playing right now).