That's not true, "quoi" can also refer to a direct object in common French, even if indeed it's not used at the beginning of a sentence.
"Tu manges quoi ?" = "What do you eat?" / "What are you eating?"
What gives "quoi" the status of indirect object is the preposition used with it, like "à" or "sur" for example.
1) "are, is, am" are implied in french for verbs. "I am running." = "Je cours." "We are talking." = "Nous parlons." "He is watching." = "Il regarde." You don't use "sont", "est", "es", "suis", "sommes", "êtes" with verbs (except in some past tenses)..
2) You must always match the verb conjugation to the pronoun. So, "Les enfants lisent." [The kids are reading. or The kids read.] "Nous lisons." [We read.] "Je lis." [I read.] Etc. "lire" is the infinitive and actually means "to read".
In "Que lisent les enfants ?", the interrogative form is introduced by "Que", which is an interrogative pronoun (replacing the object the children are reading). Then comes the verb, then the subject.
But we have different ways to form questions.
In common French, we could use "Les enfants lisent quoi ?" (the only thing showing the interrogative form being the question mark).
Does anyone else have problems hearing the difference between lis and lisent or mange, manges and mangent? They sound exactly the same! I don't have a problem translating the written sentences, but hearing the difference in words like that is near impossible for me. So what's the trick?
You can try to search the words you struggle to distinguish at www.forvo.com, they provide pronunciations from native speakers.
The difference between "lis" and "lisent" is the "z" sound at the end of "lisent".
There is no difference in pronunciation between "mange", "manges" or "mangent", they all sound the same.
Yes, I strongly encourage you to use other resources, as Duolingo isn't very suited for people who are hungry for detailed knowledge, as it relies a lot more on the "trial + error = success" method, so the people who learn with feelings and instinct probably progress faster.
People who are native can help those who ask questions, but it's very difficult for most of us, as we're not teachers, and most of the time there are a lot of concepts of our own language that we either use without understanding them, or forgot how they actually work, so in the end I'm often doing research before answering someone (especially on specific questions on grammar), and he/she would have probably found his/her answer on the Internet before I had the time to read his comment ^^. But in some cases, the insights of a native can be useful.
And yes, French has many words which sound the same but have different meanings and spelling. For those, context is required.
I'm not sure if Arjo made it clear, but "lis" and "lit" sound like "lee" while "lisent" sounds like "leez". The way to tell the diff at your level is by the pronoun. Je lis. Tu lis. Il lit. Elle lit. On lit. Ils lisent. Elles lisent.
Though some verbs do require some context such as "manger". "Il mange." = "He eats." sounds exactly like "Ils mangent." = "They eat." Your instructor would have to provide context or accept both as correct dictation.
In conjugated verbs, you won't pronounce the ending "-ent", except for verbs of the third group like "contenir" ("il contient") where you have to pronounce it.
For the other words than verbs, usually you will pronounce it ("heureusement", "vent", etc...).
I advise you to look up the pronunciations for those, since for example "contient" and "conscient" do not have the same sound for "-ent".
The recommended answer is correct, as well as its variant in continuous present:
- What do the children read?
- What are the children reading?
You don't need "est-ce que" to represent "do", because interrogative constructions and verbal forms do not match from one language to the other. Any of the above English translations can back translate to:
- Que lisent les enfants ?
- Qu'est-ce que lisent les enfants ?
- Les enfants lisent quoi ?