I would translate that as: They open these messages.
For some reason, duolingo has started using continuous progressive present tense meanings as an equivalent to simple present tense questions, there's not a huge amount of difference between the actual meaning, but it's causing a lot of confusion to new learners.
Simple present tense:
ellos abren - they open
Continuous progressive present tense:
estan abriendo - they are opening
As you can see, they are opening, is not the same as they open, but duolingo is treating them as the same and I don't agree with it.
The most frustrating part of Duo using first one tense then the other, is that they don't always accept the choice we make?? That's just not right.
Spice, the main problem you are having is that you are using English (the way it works) to understand how Spanish SHOULD work. But doing that won't and can't work. Got to leave off regarding English to understand how Spanish works.
I have seen a number of other students doing this same thing. You are not alone. And most of them are well versed in English, which is the basis of their problem.. And seemingly informative messages about the way English works only compounds their misunderstandings.
"Ellas abren estos mensajes" translates to English as BOTH "They are opening the messages" AND "They open the messages."
Like it or not.
That does not makes sense to you is because of your lock on thinking in English. Ultimately English needs to be left entirely behind. No regarding it at all. And with not translations being done within one's mind whatsoever at all.
Got to give you a thumbs down to cancel at least one of all those thumbs up you were given which were big mistakes.
It could easily equal the English ¨they are opening these messages¨.
The common English usage ¨they are opening these messages today (or, for the next 3 hours)¨ but it is not actually happening NOW as we speak cannot be translated by the spanish ¨estan abriendo¨.
So ¨Ellas abren estos mensajes¨ covers both the simple present tense and the part of the English continuous tense that does not fit in Spanish continuous tense.
Spice is mistaken. Do reconsider. Spice is using rules of English to understand Spanish. And thart does not cut it. And messages like Spice's only furthers the confusion.
Here's the thing.
While everyone is pretty much correct on the 'you open/are opening' usage of the present indicative this lesson is on the present indicative and the learning objective is to use the present indicative making an answer of 'they are opening' 'technically correct, but not what we were looking for.'
Go slow and concentrate on the lesson.
Right. This lesson is supposed to be teaching what one does not yet know or understand. "They open… " and "They are openning…" are equally CORRECT. And THAT is the lesson to learn here. But the only way to gain that understanding is by dumping all thought about ENGLISH and its rules of grammar.
Another case where the original sentence is in one grammatical form and students are supposed to transform it into another form. How do we know that this is what's required? Beats me. Yes, it is possible to translate "ellas abren" into "they are opening" but that is not the only option. Yet, duolingo flags "they open" as wrong and insists on "they are opening". Completely arbitrary, if you ask me.
Spanish is Spanish and English is English. One is not the other. Having difficulty with how Spanish doesn't work like English is like taking parts for one type of car and being frustrated because don't fit on another type of car.