I think that native speakers have an easier time pronouncing and kind of just let the rules of pronouncing slip kind of what we do with English. They found a way to let the words flow together without having to pronounce each word. Since we're beginners I just sound out each word slowly until I can pick up the pace. Kind of how we learn words in kindergarten.
This is getting really frustrating. There is no difference in how the computerized voice says the third person singular and the third person plural. And without any context how can you tell? I am quickly reaching the point where I want to forget the whole Duolingo experience because of this issue. I have a hard enough time with real mistakes that I make. I do not need to be penalized for mistakes that occur where I have to guess what the computer wants and I guess wrong.
With all verbs of the 1st group (infinitive ending with -er, like manger, danser, parler...), there is no difference between 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural, orally speaking. So, you can translate one or the other: il mange = ils mangent; elle parle = elles parlent.
However, when it comes to other verbs from 2nd and 3rd group, there are differences that you should be able to hear with practice:
- il finit -> ils finissent (sound SS at the end)
- il boit -> ils boivent (sound V at the end)
Shouldn't we hear the S in mangeons (z-et) and the T in et (t-ils) ?
"il" and "ils" sound the same but they are never left alone: generally there is a verb and if you are lucky it may not sound the same, like "il est" vs "ils sont". However, if the verb is from the 1st group (ending in -er), you still can't distinguish plural from singular : "il mange" vs ils mangent".
I also have a hard time guessing what the computer voice says but this time, I blame myself: if you play it slowly, you can hear "et il" clearly, but then there's boivent with the v sound at the end, so even if you hear it at normal speed, it's easy to guess it's plural. Most of the times, Duolingo is wrong in not accepting singular and plural answers though :/
1st group verbs (infinitive ending in -er):
- mange (je/il/elle/on), manges (tu) and mangent (ils/elles) are pronounced alike = [mɑ̃ʒ]
Other verbs only have in common je/tu/il/elle/on:
For ex: - veux (je/tu) and veut (il/elle/on) - prends (je/tu) and prend (il/elle/on) - vois (je/tu) and voit (il/elle/on)