Generally with regular verbs you take stem and add the correct end making a finite verb (useful). So ich adds -e to stem and du adds -st to stem. But "to read" is an irregular verb cause it has a stem change. Ich still adds -e (lesen's stem is les so add e to make ich lese) but du has a vowel change as well as -st (lesen's stem is les but becomes lies then add st to make du liest). It is confusing at first. Best to look up and read about regular and irregular verbs in german.
Next your going to ask why is it not liesst. I don't know. Lesen is only word I've seen where specifically this happens. To see "sehen" follows this perfectly. Du siehst. EDIT: Upon researching I found that in the case of irregular verb stems ending in -s the du version of the verb adds only -t (not -st).
It does apply to regular verbs as well. For example:
rasen (to rush) -- (stem) ras -- du rast instead of du rasst
The reason is that a double consonants like ss make the vowel in front of them sound "shorter" and would make the word sound different than all other conjugations.
There is a similar rule for stems which end with -t and the 3rd person singular there you add an -et and for 2nd an -est:
warten (to wait) -- (stem) wart -- du wartest, er wartet
Take a look at this site. This is very helpful. http://www.vocabulix.com/conjugation/German-Verbs.html. Type any word 'lese' and click 'search.' And the click 'Show All' for 'Present.' You will find what to use and when.
Generally speaking, you're right about the non-existence of a present progressive tense, regarding standardized German, but some dialects like those in the Rhineland Region, do know a present progressive tense ("Wir sind am Lesen"). Of course that only applies on colloquial language.
No. The "ea" would be an "ie" in German. You can compare the audio of least (http://www.dict.cc/?s=least ) and liest (http://www.dict.cc/?s=liest). They sound very similar (the English "l" is a bit different). I actually couldn't come up with an English word which has this kind of "e"-sound (that does not mean there aren't any).
Comparing the pronunciation of lesen and Riesen on dict.cc maybe helps you to distinguish the two vowels.
There will be a video in this list that helps: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8345BD873EEE18F4
After "dark" vowels like a, o, u or au, it sounds like /x/, which is the ch in loch or like the Spanish j.
After "light" vowels like e, ä, eu, äu and i or after most consonants, it sounds like /ç/, which is the h in hue or human (sort of a "hy" sound).
After t, it sounds like the ch in cheese, and after s or ß, it sounds like the sh in sheep or sharp.
Someone correct me if I have something wrong, this is a little too detail-oriented to explain.
After t, it sounds like the ch in cheese
These will be loanwords from English, where the pronunciation was borrowed along with the word. For example, Match in the sense of a sports match.
after s or ß, it sounds like the sh in sheep or sharp.
No; after s or ß, ch sounds like /ç/, e.g. bisschen, Mäuschen, Flößchen have /sç/, with the syllable division between the /s/ and the /ç/.
sch is a trigraph that represents the sound /ʃ/, as in täuschen (deceive) -- this is not s followed by ch (two sounds) but sch (one sound).
So Mäuschen and täuschen are pronounced differently -- one has /sç/ and the other has /ʃ/. Because in one case, the -s belongs to one syllable and the ch- to the next, while in the other, sch- represents one sound and comes at the beginning of the second syllable.
ßch is not a trigraph and always represents two sounds, i.e. /s·ç/ with a syllable break between them.
Going by German pronunciation rules, leise would be pronounced with an ~"eye" sound, which is quite different to lese.
Perhaps you're thinking of 'liese'? Well, the vowel sound is still different, but it might take some practice to tell them apart. But you can also use context - Liese is only used as a name.
Something called 'conjugation'. It exists in English too, but usually with fewer forms: "I read", but "he reads". Here, "read" and "reads" are the same verb "to read", just 'conjugated' to match "I" and "he".
By using Duolingo you will get practice at conjugating verbs, but it might also help you to write down conjugation lists to help notice the patterns and remember it faster.
Read the tips page (accessed from the light bulb icon when starting a lesson): https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Basics-1/tips-and-notes
German is not a code for English, so you cannot translate one word at a time, with one English word always translating into the same German word.
It's usually best to translate groups of words that belong together.
For example, "I am reading" is the present progressive form of the verb "read" for the subject "I" (first person singular, if you want the grammatical term).
So you translate that into ich lese in German, which is the present tense form of the verb lesen for the subject ich.
The English verb form needs a helping verb "am", but the German verb form does not. But both are present-tense verb forms -- progressive/continuous in English, and just present in German (which doesn't have a grammatical distinction between present simple and present progressive).
In the fast pronunciation the woman says Ich l(ee)se. In the slower "turtle" pronunciation she says Ich l(ay)se. This has happened previously with Wir and Ihr although you can figure those out by the verb form. I guess the safe thing is to always listen to the slower pronunciation.
So having read all your comments which were somewhat helpful I'm still partly confused. Like with "are" (seid and sind) is there a simple way of explaining lese is for when its following singular correct? Ie. Ich lese... But then with liest and lesen I thought I had them figured out until I got to the "are reading" "am reading" etc... would love any further clear clarification anyone can give me! Thanks in advance.
Also is this the same when it comes to eating and drinking verbs? Esse, esst, isst etc