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I think I've found that fill-in-the-blank exercise -- the options I see are "lesen; lese, esse".
You can't tell the difference between Sie and sie, but lese is not appropriate for either of them -- it's the form for ich. So you can eliminate that form on grammatical grounds. Same with esse which is also the form for ich. That leaves only lesen which could work for Sie (you) or sie (they).
Were those the options you saw or was this a different exercise?
The question itself gives no indication whether "Sie" means "she" or "they", we have to make the assumption ourselves, giving us a 50-50 change of guessing the answer. Everyone who's saying that she would be "liest" doesn't realize that this can't explain it because the only reason "liest" would be there is if we put it there ourselves by guessing that "Sie" means "she"
Can you give a screenshot of the exercise that you saw?
Duo has several different types of exercises that it generates automatically from a given sentence but I'm not sure which one you might have seen that might have generated the confusion.
You talk about "putting it there yourself", which sounds a bit like a tapping exercise in a translation, but if you're supposed to put German words there, there must be an English sentence to translate and that English sentence would say "she" or "they".
And if it's a "translate German to English" exercise, I would expect you to see the entire sentence Sie lesen Bücher, where you would see both sie and lesen at the same time, without needing to put anything anywhere -- and then you can see that it is not sie liest but sie lesen.
Or if you can't provide a screenshot, can you explain exactly what you saw and what you were asked to do in the exercise?
No; that's not a possible verb form in standard German at all.
Wir lesen means "we are reading" (or "we read"), and as in English, is the same regardless of the gender of the people reading.
Gender is distinguished -- as in English -- only in the third person singular.
In this sentence Sie can not mean "she" as the verb would have to be liest. It can only mean "They" or "You" (politely to any number of people) because these are the only forms that match Sie at the beginning of a sentence with lesen. The other comments had explained this already.
I can't see what your comment has to do with my post, but I'll answer anyway.
The sentence we are asked to translate uses the plural Bücher/"books". Simply because that's what we're asked to translate, it's incorrect to answer with the singular. Both German and English use the plural/singular forms in the same way in this example.
From a 'logical' point of view (dangerous to apply this to Duolingo's sentences, to be honest), I also don't see a problem. I would say "I read books" because over my life I read more than one of them. Even at one particular time I could say "I am reading a couple of books at the moment", meaning that I am partway through reading several and depending on my circumstances I will choose one or the other to continue with. It does not mean that I am reading them simultaneously, as you seem to be implying.
In response to IluapGnagflow, the singular German Buch would not be correct as a translation because the English sentence uses the plural "books". Additionally, a sentence such as 'Sie lesen Buch' is grammatically incorrect because a singular countable noun needs an article, for example Sie lesen ein Buch or Sie lesen das Buch. Neither of these (grammatically correct) sentences are an appropriate translation however because they still use the singular.
No, only Bücher is correct in that example.
The reason is that, like in English, singular nouns need an article in German. Plural nouns do not (but can have one, to be more specific).
As an example, it is incorrect to say 'They read book' in English. It needs to be "They read a book". The German equivalent 'Sie lesen Buch' is wrong and needs to be Sie lesen ein Buch.
For plurals, both "They read books" and "They read the books" are grammatically-correct sentences. The first one refers to books generally, the second one to a specific set of books. The German equivalents are Sie lesen Bücher and Sie lesen die Bücher.
The reason is that, like in English, singular nouns need an article in German.
To be more precise -- like in English, countable singular nouns need an article in German.
(So "We are drinking water" and Wir trinken Wasser are fine in the singular without an article because "water"/Wasser is a mass/non-count noun.)
Sie (capitalized) is formal you. The conjugation matches the they (sie) form. You can tell apart each one by capitalization. However, at the beginning of the sentence, there is no way to tell. So it can be either they or you. Another alternative one may think is the 'she' (sie) also no capitalized, but conjugation differs (liest)
Yes, I agree. sie, lower case is she. BUT, in THIS sentence, the word begins the sentence. In this case, "Sie" can mean either one, she or you/they. It is capitalized as a first word in the sentence, and we have no idea which "sie/Sie" they mean. If you choose the "right one" (what Duo wants) then you get it correct. I chose "she" and therefore got it wrong. If they don't put it in a place inside the sentence, the reader can't determine what is wanted. If I were a mind reader, I would be able to speak fluent German without doing all this!!
But the fill in the blank of the verb had both liest and lesen as possible answers
That would surprise me, as the options I see are "lesen - lese - lest".
sie lest is not correct because lest is for ihr lest.
If you are sure that you saw liest as an option, a screenshot would be extremely helpful if you happen to come across the exercise again.
Not sure how to show a screenshot here but this particular exercise that ask for you to "complete with the verb" is as such with multiple choice.. "Sie ____ Bücher" lese lesen esst
I chose lese for "She reads books." But this was wrong and was supposed to be "Sie lesen Bücher." So how are we supposed to know if the want the plural of Sie or the singular if it's at the start of a sentence?
Ah, thank you for the description!
(Odd - I thought fill-in-the-blank exercises were all manually created, but the one for this sentence has "Sie lesen ......" with options "Bücher / Buch / Büchern", no choice for verb. Perhaps the system generated the one you saw automatically somehow?)
At any rate, "she reads books" would be *Sie liest Bücher".
Sie lese Bücher is not correct, at least not in the indicative mood -- there, lese only fits with ich as in ich lese.
So that should be the signal that it cannot be the right one to fill the gap, much as lest would not be appropriate as those are the form for ihr.
Of the three choices you wrote (lese, lesen, esst), only lesen can occur after sie.
(Unless we're talking about the present subjunctive mood, but that's not something touched on much in this course, and certainly not so early on.)
The ü is pronounced by making the letter E as in meet and then rounding your lips as though you were saying the letter O. The ch is this sound: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_palatal_fricative. The closest (though pretty far) English approximation of this word's pronunciation is "Beausher" with the Beau from beautiful.
Sie can mean they, she, or you (formal, plural or singular). When using the formal Sie is always capitalized. For she the verb is conjugated with a 't' on the end. For you and they it is conjugated with an 'en'.
Th as t being said lesen 'to read' is slightly irregular. Ich lese. Du liest. Er/sie/es liest. Wir lesen. Ihr lest. Sie lesen.
It's rather about the preceding vowels rather than the followings. Except for those words taken from other languages (which may keep their foreign pron), basically the rule is:
If preceded by 'a', 'o', 'u': ch is pronounced like a stronger English 'h' sound as in 'happy'. Examples: Acht, Koch, Buch
If preceded by 'e, 'i', or Umlaut, ch is pronounced like between a softer 'sh' sound and the 'h' in 'huge' Examples: Becher, ich, Nächte, Töchter, Bücher. Also some endings like -chen have this sound.
Hope this helps
"They are reading some books" makes perfect sense as a sentence, but it's different to what Duolingo asked us to translate.
Adding extra words is often done for a reason - to change the meaning - so you shouldn't do it when translating unless necessary. Here, it isn't necessary as "They are reading books" also makes perfect sense (with a slightly different meaning). Nothing to do with dialect.
What exactly is the problem? Does this help? https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/German/Grammar/Alphabet_and_Pronunciation
So, I was about to ask "why isn't it YOU".
Then I realized that if it is "YOU are reading books", I reckon it should've been "Sie lesen EIN Buch / DAS Buch"
In this case, Sie lesen _ (without a case), it has to be "sie" (they).
Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Danke!
I think you're a bit mixed up there! Sie lesen at the start of a sentence can mean either "They read" or "You read" (using the polite form). Those two possibilities have nothing to do with what follows.
Additionally, singular nouns in both English and German need an article: ein Buch, "a book". Plural nouns don't: Bücher, "books". So, read your second sentence again... you mix up the singular and plural.
There's not really a reason 'why'. Languages just develop over time and this is what we've got!
It can be helpful to remember that there are three main possibilities for sie/Sie. But you can usually pick the right one based on a combination of whether or not it has a capital letter, and on whether the verb that comes after it has an -n or -t at the end:
sie liest = "she reads"
sie lesen = "they read"
Sie lesen = "you read" (polite)
Of course, when you have "They read" at the start of a sentence, you also need to write Sie with a capital letter. This doesn't change the meaning, but it does mean we then have two valid possibilities when translating from German to English.
I see a lot of people asking about the problem and saying they dont know what to choose. I had something similar but almost all of my answers were for Sie. The first was lesen; which can be used for they (and the answer). Thr second was lest which I think is for formal "you" or "he," she," and "it." The last was lese which is for I so I knew that was not it. I just couldn't tell for the others though because it could have been for both. Can someone please explain thanks.
lest is from ihr lest (you read -- informal plural).
lesen changes its vowel for du and er, sie, es and so those forms are du liest; er liest, sie liest, es liest.
Thus sie lest is not possible for "she reads" and you can discard that option as well.
lese, as you said, is for ich.
(If we ignore the subjunctive for now, as this course does.)
Please look more closely; I think you'll find that the middle option was lest, not liest.
sie lest is not possible, thus only sie lesen is grammatically correct from among those choices.
If you did see liest, can you provide a screenshot, please? (Upload it somewhere and paste the URL to the image here.)
I don't think you could have as the question gave you both forms of the verb for the pronouns you mentioned "sie" and "Sie". Since the pronoun was at the beginning it started with a capital letter. The only way to tell would have been to look at the verb and it's what was missing (what you had to choose).
See notes for Lesson 3, “Basics 2”. https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Basics-2/tips-and-notes
I see no exercise where the verb is missing where there is a choice of "liest".
I see one that has "lesen, lese, lest".
Of those three, only lesen goes with sie -- the other two are ich lese and ihr lest.
If you do find an exercise with liest, then please provide a screenshot; this should not happen, and it will help me pass on a bug report.
Though I figured out it would be "lesen", I tried google translate and found "Sie lese" is valid (https://translate.google.com/#view=home&op=translate&sl=de&tl=en&text=Sie%20lese%20B%C3%BCcher) . Is that wrong?
Yes, it's wrong.
Don't trust Google Translate. It's notorious for trying to make sense out of nonsense -- or making nonsense out of sense. You can't use it to "prove" anything.
Try translating "I reads books." When I did so, I got get the (nearly) valid German sentence Ich lese bücher.
Does that mean that "I found that I reads books is valid" ?
Also, on a tablet, or a mobile, you can simply touch-and-hold the u, a, o, and s on your virtual keyboard to make the ü, ä, ö, and ß characters appear. On a Windows PC, you can either use Alt codes, or just click the special characters you want (they are available on the screen),
Sie lesen Bücher. can mean either "they are reading books" or "you are reading books".
You can only distinguish them from context.
Sie lesen Buch and "You read book" are both incorrect: Buch/book is countable, so needs to be preceded by a determiner such as an article in the singular.
Unfortunately, Sie can have several meanings:
"you (formal)" = Sie (always capitalised)
With the verb, this uses Sie lesen. This is the polite way to say "you" when talking to one person or to a group.
"they" = sie (only capitalised at the beginning of a sentence)
With the verb, also use sie lesen. If it's at the beginning of a sentence, you'll have to use other information to figure out if it's "they" or "you". In these ambiguous situations , Duolingo should accept either.
"she" = sie (only capitalised at the beginning of a sentence)
With the verb, use sie liest. This is probably what you were expecting, but as you can see, if sie is used with a verb ending in -en, it can't mean "she" so you'll have to figure out if it means "they" or "you".
See the full list of verb conjugation here: http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/German/lesen.html
Instead of thinking that the verb ending matches some number of people, think that it matches the personal pronoun - ich/du/er/sie/es/ihr/wir/sie/Sie. Each of those has a form of the verb that it needs to match to (called a conjugation of the verb).
Whether those pronouns are for more than one person or not is a different matter. If you look at one of the conjugation tables that lists ich lese, er liest, wir lesen, etc. you'll see that there is no pattern to the verb ending itself just based on the number of people that the pronoun refers to. Yes, there are some coincidences where sie lesen ("they read") and wir lesen ("we read") refer to more than one person, but ihr lest ("you [all] read") also refers to more than one person and it's different. And the polite Sie lesen ("you read") can be used to one person or a group.
If you've never heard of a verb conjugation table, Duolingo has some examples in the lesson tips, which you can see in a web browser if you scroll down before starting a lesson.
Sie lesen Buch would translate to "They read book".
The sentence is as wrong in German as it is in English -- in the singular, you need an article or other determiner before the countable noun.
"They read a/the/my/this/etc. book" -- Sie lesen ein/das/mein/dies/usw. Buch
But just sie lesen Buch does not work.