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In the following sentence:

Wie sind ___ Lebensmittel auf den Philippinen? / Sie sind so teuer.

Which one should I use in the blank position? The book states that das is used, but why can't we use die instead?

a) Wie sind die Lebensmittel (plural) auf den Philippinen? b) Wie sind das Lebensmittel auf den Philippinen?

Which one to use and why?

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    Sind is already plural, is it not, Apr 9, 2022 at 21:10
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    Are you sure you quote the sentence in its entirety and also the solution suggestions correctly? Apr 9, 2022 at 22:24
  • @BernhardDöbler Yes, it is supposed to be plural.
    – boudien
    Apr 10, 2022 at 9:17
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    The example sentence has its weaknesses. 1) Wie sind in no way indicates, what is asked for: tastefulness, availability, … 2) Philippinen looks weird without an article. So I‘m not sure, whether something can be learned from it.
    – guidot
    Apr 10, 2022 at 9:37
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    "Wie sind die Lebensmittel auf den Philippinen?" sounds like a reasonable sentence if you want to ask "How is food on the philippines?" Apr 10, 2022 at 9:45

2 Answers 2

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Just to write it explicitly your book seems to be incorrect on that one and you're intuition is right, it's plural indicated by the "sind" and the article needs to be "die".

Even if "Lebensmittel" wouldn't refer to a life essential product, but rather to an average like the sweet little German words "durchschnittliche Lebenshaltungskosten" it would still require an "ist" for "das" to make sense. Also no one would say that.

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    Das durchschnittliche Lebenshaltungskosten? Apr 12, 2022 at 17:11
  • Nope "die durchschnittlichen Lebenshaltungskosten" aber "das Lebensmittel" if there were a colloquial usage of that word in that sense.
    – haxor789
    Apr 13, 2022 at 12:37
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Wie sind die Lebensmittel in den Philippinen? Sie sind so teuer.

A better question would be:

Wie sind die Lebensmittelpreise in den Philippinen? (also possible: auf den Philippinen)

Oder:

Wie teuer sind die Lebensmittel in den Philippinen?

We use die Lebensmittel because we refer here to the plural, more than just one Lebensmittel, for example we think here about the prices for bread, milk, meat ...

An example for using das: Wasser ist das Lebensmittel Nummer 1. Here we refer to one Lebensmittel only (Wasser). In any case 'ist' means singular and 'sind' plural.

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