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I know that сто́ить has several meanings.

For example, the sentence сколько стоит? means "How much does it cost".

Говорить о религии не стоит means "It's not worth talking about religion".

And это стоит того simply means "It's worth it".

But in this example, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out the meaning of стоить.

Стоило ему свернуть на просёлочную дорогу, как мотор заглох.

Does it mean "As soon as he steered the car toward a rural road, the motor broke down"?

On a side note, does "стоит того" agree in gender and number? "There are things which are worth it" is translated as "есть вещи, которые стоят того"?

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Adding "только" makes it all the easier to interpret this structure:

Стоило ему (только) свернуть на просёлочную дорогу, как мотор заглох.

A literal meaning:

All he had to do was turn onto a dirt road, when/before the engine (suddenly) stalled.

And more naturally:

The moment he turned onto a dirt road, the engine stalled.

Or the present "стоит" comes in handy when you make a general statement. I'd say something like:

(Вот) Стоит только/хоть на минуточку потерять бдительность, как (сразу/тут же) (обязательно) рухнет весь план.

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  • very good point! – shabunc Dec 28 '18 at 8:46
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Yes, it's just a regular Russian grammar construction obeying regular Russian grammar rules, so it agrees both in gender and number in the phrase you've provided. And yes, your understanding of "стоило ему свернуть на просёлочную дорого" is correct: стоит сделать что-либо/что-то means "as soon as".

There's very subtle change of context that make this exactly phrase completely different. Сompare following two sentences:

  1. Тут стоит сделать одно замечание - it worth making a remark here.
  2. Cтоит сделать одно замечание - и он сразу впадает в ярость. A single reprimand - and he's getting mad at instant.

On a side note, "говорить о религии не стоит" is noticeably closer to "we should not speak about religion" rather than "it's not worth it". Check, for instance, "не стоило тебе этого делать". To make it sound closer to not-worth-it-meaning, one more likely would say "Говорить о религии сейчас не стоит" or "Чего мы будем сейчас о религии говорить".

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  • It's worth saying that the expression with "чего" is colloquial. While "не стоит этого делать" is pretty polite and mild. – Elena Dec 30 '18 at 12:22

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