"They are eating the meal."
Translation:Ils mangent le repas.
En English, the progressive form (to be verb-ing) expresses an action in progress. This form does not exist in French. So, if you want to accurately translate such a form into French, you should say "ils sont en train de manger le repas", where "en train de" + infinitive form means the same.
"un repas" = a meal is a countable object (one meal, two meals, etc).
The partitive construction with "du" (masculine singular) or "de la" (feminine singular) is used with "mass words", ie nouns that are not countable: air/air, beer/bière, money/argent, soup/soupe, patience/patience...
The partitive construction is justified as soon as the meaning is "an undefined quantity of" + non-countable.
Otherwise, "the meal" translates to "le repas" and "the meals" to "les repas".
I was asked to translate "They are eating the meal" into French. So I typed "Ils sont mangent le repas", and got it wrong as apparently the world "sont" shouldn't be there :| with out "sont" which means "are" the sentence would read "They eat the meal", but "They ARE eating the meal" was demanded! I've reported this and hope it get's fixed. Just annoying as I am trying to clear this with no mistakes and this was the final question >.< I'll try again, maybe I'll be 5th time lucky -.-
The "are" in "are eating" doesn't carry that much meaning--it's just a helping verb in expressing the present continuous tense in English. French doesn't really have a present continuous, but the idea can be expressed using the present, like in this sentence. French and English are different languages, so you can't expect everything to have a word-for-word literal translation. A similar question came up a little while ago, so check that discussion out for more information.