"Are they newspapers?"
Translation:Zijn het kranten?
I know this is an old question, but here's the answer:
When saying "they are" in Dutch, you might be tempted to say "zij zijn". This can sound silly or confusing, but repetitive either way. For this reason, when you say "they are", you end up saying "het zijn". So naturally when asking what they are, you would say "Zijn het....". I know it may be confusing to use a word for so many different purposes, but that is Dutch.
Also note that there is another exception to this exception. The "het zijn" rules applies to nouns, not adjectives. So you could say "Het zijn schapen" (They are sheep), but you would NEVER say "Het zijn groen" (They are green). Instead, when you're applying an adjective to a plural third-person subject, you say "Ze zijn".
In review: het zijn - they are (for nouns) ze zijn - they are (for adjectives)