पढ़ते हैं should also be accepted here.
However if we were sure that वे(ve) referred to a group of girls/women, then the ending would be पढ़ती हैं ।
Let's replace the ambiguous वे.
लड़का किताब पढ़ता है - The/A boy reads the/a book
लड़के किताबें पढ़ते हैं - The boys read the books
लड़की किताब पढ़ती है - The/A girl reads the/a book
लड़कियां किताबें पढ़ती हैं - The girl read the books.
Notice how the पढ़ती remains the same whether it's one girl or several girls.
Excellent explanation. Just correct girl to girls in the last example. A typo I guess
Could this theoretically also mean "those books read"?? I mean assuming they were somehow sentient books... this seems like it could be ambiguous under the right/wrong circumstances lol
Yes, you are correct but only if books could read. :):). As a native speaker, I admire your understanding of the grammar.
"Study" is not exactly a synonym of reading. You can be reading something but not studying at the same time.
Does not पढ़ना also mean “study"? Or is it obvious because of the simple sentence context that the meaning is “read”?
"Study" is not exactly a synonym of reading. You can be reading something but not studying at the same time. Your mind may be elsewhere. :) :)