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In French, "l'homme mange une pomme" can mean BOTH the man eats an apple and the man is eating an apple. I think what happened in English over time was, like another guy said, we got used to saying "I am eating/walking/sleeping" for something we are actually doing and saying "I eat/sleep/walk" for stuff we just do in general, and whenever people teach French, I guess what they're trying to do is show people that other languages have their own "quirks" with how to say stuff (and might think we're pretty bonkers ourselves).
I haven't gotten far enough in learning French to know if there is a way to literally say "the man is eating an apple" but I know that the same thing happens in Spanish, which is related (you can say "el hombre está comiendo una manzana" which literally means the man is eating an apple, or "el hombre come una manzana" which word-for-word means "the man eats an apple" but can also mean the man is eating the apple. Usually things don't translate word for word, but with languages that have been neighbours for thousands of years oftentimes you really DO get word for word translations so we get confused when we don't see one :D.
So in French (and Spanish too, because this is the way it is in Latin, and both languages are descended from Latin) you don't have to say "is" + some word-ing (a word ending in ing is called a present participle), you can just say that verb, but it's got to be conjugated right! Just as you can say "I eats the apple" or "He am eating an apple" you can't say "La femme manges la pomme!"
Maybe you didn't need to (or want to) know all that (or I just overexplained everything and confused you?), but I hope it helps.
In French, there is no continuous tense (for example, we say: "Je mange", whether in a definite or indefinite period of time.).
You can use the idiomatic phrase "être en train de" to express the idea of continuity. (ex: "Je suis en train de manger." for "I am eating.")
If you hover over the English progressive tense (ex: "am eating"), you will get the hints for the French conjugated tense ("mange").
So, if the meaning of the sentence is "in general", then use the English present simple, for ex: "(In general) I eat rice."
If the meaning of the sentence is "in a definite moment", then use the English present continuous, for ex: "(Now) I am eating rice."
Horkover et Zekkoiyu: Your French ear will develop. It takes a lot of practice. Listen to the sentences without looking at the words. Then look at the words. Then replay looking at the words. I am going through the same dilemma over on the Spanish segment of Duolingo. This is the first French sentence that I have heard on Duolingo. It seems the computer/speech synthesizer speaks French slower than Spanish...
They are both present conjugations of eat. Mange is the conjugation of eat when it applies to yourself (I), je mange. Manges is the conjugation of eat when it applies to you (you as in someone else), tu manges. Note: tu is informal use of the word you, vous is formal and would change the conjugation to mangez.