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Concept of sum total

Sum total (when there is more than one thing) in Russian is not always denoted with a word in plural form. To say that there are a lot of things, we often use such words as "масса" (a large amount), "ряд" (a range of), "множество" (a variety of) and other. As you can see, these words are in singular form although they denote plural one. It leads to difficulties in the agreement with a verb. In this article we will try to find out, how to agree such expressions correctly.

I. The words "большинство" [bal'shinstvo], "меньшинство" [men'shinstvo], "ряд" [ryad] and "множество" [mnozhistva].

You can agree them with the word denoting sum total or a subordinate word. For example:

Множество птиц живёт в парке [Mnozhestva ptits zhivyot f parke] - A lot of birds live in the park.
Множество птиц живут в парке [Mnozhestva ptits zhivut f parke]- A lot of birds live in the park.

But if there is no subordinate word, the agreement will be as follows:
Большинство ( ) проголосовало против нового закона [Bal'shinstvo pragalasavala protif novava zakona] - Most ( ) has voted against new law.

II. Numerals.

1) In most cases you can use a verb as in singular as in plural form.

Трое не пришли на экзамен [Troye ne prishli na ehkzamen] - Three students did not come to the exam.
Трое не пришло на экзамен [Troye ne prishlo na ehkzamen] - Three students did not come to the exam.

2) However, if a numeral includes the stem "один" and ends with it, then it would be more appropriate to use a verb in singular form.

Двадцать один студент сегодня получил диплом - Twenty one students have got a degree today.

3) Also, if you have extra word, e.g. "эти" (these) or "все" (all), it will be appropriate to use agreement with the verb in plural form.

Все двадцать машин были проданы за день - All twenty car were sold for today.

4) In the expressions with the words "тысяча" (a thousand) and "миллион" (a million) we use a verb-predicate in the form of a subject, i.e. we choose its gender and the singular form.

Тысяча зрителей смотрит концерт каждый вечер - A thousand of spectators watch a concert every evening.

III. Adverbs connected with counting: мало [mala], немного [nimnoga], много [mnoga], столько [stol'ko].
Agreement with a verb in the singular form.

Столько дел нужно завершить до конца месяца! - I should wrap up a lot of cases before the end of a month!
Мало времени осталось - It's not much time left.

IV. Noun denoting quantity agrees with a verb in singular form.

Куплена пара книг - A couple of books is bought.
Масса народу вышла на праздничную площадь - A great number of people went to a celebration.

V. In combination of two nouns in the concept "вместе" (together) you can use a verb as in singular as in plural form. However, if we use a verb in singular form, it means that one of participants is more active.

Мать с дочерью пошли в магазин - Mother and daughter went for shopping.
(to buy a dress for themeselves)
Мать с дочерью пошла в магазин - Mother with her daughter went for shopping.
(to buy a dress for herself)


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