Translation:What are the prices for these apples?
Was sind die __ für diese Äpfel?
The answer is "Preise", the plural of "(der) Preis", probably because there are different kinds of apples. The HoneyCrisps are more expensive than the Fujis, etc. You know Duo wants the plural because it's "Was sind die...." In this context, "What are the prices of these apples?" is a better English translation, because "What do these apples cost?" sounds like we're back to a single price.
That's how I'd interpret it too, and if they had asked what the prices are for these vegetables, chances are that most of these comments wouldn't be here. The problem isn't with the grammar but with sentences that are contrived to the point that people can't imagine ever using them.
In real life, the prices would be posted. I might see apples in a friend's house and wonder what they cost, but using examples of sentences that people can't make sense of in their native language isn't a good way to learn.
Perhaps, but where I live the prices are posted at farmer's markets. Then again, you don't necessarily pay what's posted. If there's a price per pound, you buy 4.8 pounds of apples, they might tell me that it's $5 even if the posted price would work out to $5.76.
But I'd expect the person selling me the apples to tell me what I owe when they calculated it. I can't imagine them waiting around for me to ask.
There might be theoretical situations, but they are not realistic.
Read Steve32837 and Doctor-John Comments, very clear explanation. I, personally find it great that DL has these discussions so we can understand things better. Languages do not always translate exactly and we have to assume that there will be ambiguity in certain parts of the language. I hope you find those comments I recommended as useful as I did and lots of luck on your language endeavors!
Grammatically there is no ambiguity here. The verb sind requires a plural subject. The plural of der Preis is die Preise. The speculation is only about the context that led to the question Was sind die Preise für diese Äpfel? A likely answer is that different apples have different prices. Not many vendors or supermarkets sell only one kind of apple.
Whether you like it or not, the lack of specificity in languages like English and German will force questions to be ambiguous. What is not ambiguous is the list of potential translations. There's no point in objecting to ambiguity, since it was decided by the formation of the languages themselves.
I am taking it as meaning, "What are the prices for these [different kinds of] apples". Maybe, the Gala apples are a bit more expensive than the Fiji apples, and Golden Delicious are the cheapest. But, it's obvious that we are not talking about the price for a group of apples, so we must be talking about various types of apples.
But, I'm curious if this is a common way to ask this kind of question in native German? Would Germans say, "What ARE the prices of [something]" or, "What IS the price of [something]"?
If you mean "What is the price of these apples?" is now accepted, that's too bad. It's a fine English sentence, but an inaccurate translation. The situation in which the original sentence arises has prices (plural), from which it's obvious there must be a variety of apples to choose from at different prices. Duolingo doesn't advance a student's learning by accepting inaccurate translations.
Now this is confusing.
The German phase is currently "was sind die Preise für diese Äpfel?" and the English translation is "what do these apples cost?"
What confuses me is "die Preise" (the prices - in plural!) in German.
Can you say also "was ist der Preis für diese Äpfel?" in German?
Because if you would use the plural form in English "what are the prices of these apples" then it would change the meaning of the question and you might get answers like "the price at XZ Superstore is 4,99 but you can buy the same apples at a cheaper price at A&B Market".
Because it is plural.
der Apfel = 1 apple (nominative case) den Apfel = 1 apple (accusative) dem Apfel = 1 apple (dative)
die Äpfel = more than one apple (nominative)
and so on. Here's one source that explains it - http://www.crodict.com/nouns/german/Apfel.html - or you can google German noun declensions.
Here's the table with the declanations of "dieser".
The preposition "für" takes accusative, the apples are in plural, hence "diese": was sind die Preise für diese Äpfel?.
If is was singular, then it would be "diesen": was ist der Preis für diesen Apfel?".
Duolingo tells me to pay attention to the accents, yet does not allow me to put an umlaut over a capital A.
The easiest option is to use the full-sized web interface of DL, because the German special letters
Ä Ö Ü´ß
should be visible right under the text area where you type your answer. You can just click on these letters for inserting them into your text.
If you are using a DL app on a mobile device then it is not so easy any more., You must find the way to configure the German keyboard on your device. But even this can be done :)
That is exactly where they are missing. (I do use the full-size web interface.) The accented capital letters are not shown, only the lower-case letters.
I tried to resize my browser window and noticed that if you make it narrower than 720 pixels then the German letters just vanish from the user interface. Maybe you are using a tablet with a small screen? If yes then try to use the tablet in landscape mode, not in the portrate mode.
Maybe because “what are the prices of these apples” is more common than “....for these apples”. In the example given by a contributor about comparing prices between different supermarkets, you could use either ‘for’ or ‘of’. Maybe the person has a list of prices of different types of apples in different supermarkets and you want to know the prices for these particular ones. It seems however to be complicating matters a bit for what should be a simple sentence
Different supermarkets were mentioned in one comment, but that's not what's happening here. You can't ask in one supermarket about the prices in other supermarkets. Anyway, Duo rejects "What are the prices for/of these apples?" because whoever could add more answers to the list of correct answers hasn't gotten around to it or doesn't realize that this is a perfectly reasonable translation. It's what many native English-speakers would say, if there are different varieties of apples at the given store and the prices are not posted. (This rarely happens in the U.S.)