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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, 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)
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),