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Why in the following sentence , we use "оста́лось" in the neuter singular form while "не́сколько свобо́дных мест" is [Genitive, PLURAL]?

I think as a plural subject, it needs a plural verb, but we used a singular form. and why neuter?

У нас оста́лось то́лько не́сколько свобо́дных мест[Genitive, PLURAL], но, к сожале́нию, мест ря́дом друг с дру́гом уже нет. Е́сли хоти́те, вы мо́жете взять два отде́льных[Genitive PLURAL] мЕста[Genitive SINGULAR].

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When the main word of subject contains "несколько", "много", "немного", "мало", "немало", "определенное количество" and collective numbers ("двое", "трое", "четверо", etc.) (e.g., "Там было много людей", "У меня осталось мало денег", "В банке было трое человек") the verb is usually agreed in neutral gender.

Maybe because "несколько", "мало", "много", etc. are collective words (like when the quantity of something is more than one but is considered as a single whole - I don't know how to explain it properly). Like "gente" in Spanish means "people", but gramatically is a feminine. Or like English "gilded youth" means more than one person but is singular. The same way when subject contains one of the italic words above as a main word, the verb is agreed as a neutral gender - it's just necessary to remember :)

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    I should say that the verb is agreed in neutral gender just as well with any cardinal numerals: Осталось три места, Осталось семь человек. The only exception is numerals ending in один, одна: Остался один автобус, Осталась двадцать одна посетительница.
    – ach
    Jan 14 '16 at 15:31
  • It's more complicated. Compare Осталось семь человек. and Остались семь человек.. The voice of the verb in the first sentence is passive whereas in the second one, it's kind of reflexive. Like the people from the second sentence decided themselves that they would stay.
    – thorn
    Jan 18 '16 at 22:51
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У нас оста́лось то́лько не́сколько свобо́дных мест

The subject is несколько, not мест (see this question: why the verb is singular in this sentence?).

Мест is in plural because несколько (and other collective numerals) govern plural genitive for their arguments.

Е́сли хоти́те, вы мо́жете взять два отде́льных ме́ста

Likewise, numerals два, три, четыре govern singular genitive.

However, while the noun should be in singular genitive, the adjective which modifies it should be either in plural genitive or plural nominative (nominative is preferred for the female nouns, genitive for masculine and neuter nouns).

This means that those sentences:

Можете взять два отдельных места

Можете взять два отдельные места

Можете взять две отдельных ложи

Можете взять две отдельные ложи

could all be used, though those in bold are preferred stylistically.

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  • Можете взять два отдельные места. sounds so strange to me that I had to check the rules. Unexpectedly, the grammar says such a construction is indeed possible, but it's rare and tends to fall out of usage. I'd say it's already not used at all in the today's language.
    – thorn
    Jan 18 '16 at 23:23
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The sample text looks far-fetched. Being native speaker, I feel like there is a mistake. Though it's not a mistake, just odd words combination. One don't say "только несколько" unless she/he has speaking issues, such as stutter. If you would ask for a ticket, you will hear:

  • Можно мне два места ря́дом?
  • Ря́дом не́ту. Всего пара билетов осталось. По отде́льности места́ брать будете?
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    It's strange you think no one says so. I admit, the sentence is far from good, nevertheless this "mistake" is quite common. Of course, any decent writer would avoid it, but in a common speech it's acceptable.
    – Matt
    Jan 18 '16 at 13:41
  • The only one who's going to inform you about the tickets is a cashier. And cashiers do not use that formal language. Jan 19 '16 at 4:02

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