"Sie haben eine Zeitung."
Translation:They have a newspaper.
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That's not quite true. In another Duolingo course I'm doing, there's often a moderator, or whatever you call a person who takes part in designing the course, among us, and he (she?) tells us that he'll get things corrected. And they do get corrected. So I assumed it could be the same with the German course. And the reason I wrote Duokingo is that I have lost predictive text and it's exhausting to keep correcting mistypes. Sorry about that.
Yes, you definitely can. Although I see basically no practial application for that ;).
A bit more specific: "eine/einen" always defines, that the count of that object is one, but an unspecific one. You don't know if it's the new york times, sun, or whatever newspaper there might be. To say "one newspaper" would sound to me like if you wanted to express that you only took one of a pile of the same newspapers (because you could take more, if you wanted to bring them to your friends).
When the verb is in the singular form, it's "she". When the verb is in the plural, it means "they". Sie hat vs. Sie haben = she has vs. they have.
On a side note, Sie haben can also mean "you have" in singular and plural in the polite address: Sie haben da eine Nudel im Gesicht means, is spoken to someone you have a noodle there on you face (which btw. is the start of an incredibly funny video from a German comedian from the 80's). Context is everything.
That's not quite true. In another Duolingo course I'm doing, there's often a moderator, or whatever you call a person who takes part in designing the course, among us, and he (she?) tells us that he'll get things corrected. And they do get corrected.
Those would be course contributors -- they are volunteers, not employees of Duolingo.
They can change sentences, but they can't change how Duolingo works at a more basic level. (Such as back buttons or the voice recognition.)
So I assumed it could be the same with the German course.
It used to be like that, but about a year ago, maintainership of the course moved to other hands, and also, most of the volunteers stopped having time for working on the course.
I don't think the current contributors read the sentence discussions at all, and I'm not sure whether they go through error reports.
Thanks for your reply, Mizinamo, and for your many impeccable replies to language questions. Are you such a volunteer? But what happened to volunteers such that most no longer had the time to continue advocating for us? And how do you have this esoteric knowledge, if I may ask?
Are you such a volunteer?
Sort of. I still have the rights to modify some things in the back end but the active maintenance of the German course moved from our team to a new group that I don't know and am not in contact with, so I keep my hands off "their" sentence (basically, anything created or last edited by them).
what happened to volunteers such that most no longer had the time to continue advocating for us?
I don't know any details about the other people I used to work with loosely or what they are doing now.
I'm guessing that their day job and other hobbies and interests took over. Or maybe they simply got burned out after several years of doing this for free.
And for the new ones: as I said, I don't know them at all so I don't know how much time they have or where their interests lie.
Well, I'm very glad that you take the trouble to answer people's questions. I've only recently started to brush up the very little German I picked up when I was an au pair in Hamburg. It was felt German would be helpful to me as I was about to study classics at university. But I never got very far with German. It's very exciting to be starting it again. And soothing to be studying a language so close to English. The other language I'm doing with Duolingo is Arabic.
Are you such a volunteer?
Update: probably not for longer. Duolingo is phasing out its volunteer contributor program.
They'll be moving to a system where all contributors are paid, probably some time in April/May 2021.
I will not be applying for a paid position -- one of the reasons I did this (often thankless) work was that I could walk away whenever I felt like it and set my own hours.