This question is different in the word order from: singular or a plural verb after "и..., и ..."? - When the verb is after the subject, plural sounds logical. However, it is common in Russian to have a verb before the subject. In this case, plural doesn't sound good, because it perceptibly contradicts the first (singular) part of the subject. For example, what is correct in the following, "встретила" or "встретили"?

Меня встретила Аня, моя старшая двоюродная сестра, и Сергей, её новый парень со старшего курса.


In your example either number will do, but plural is preferred in formal writing:

Обратите внимание на то, что форма множественного числа при обратном порядке слов является нормативной в официально-деловом и научном стилях, где на первый план выходит смысловая точность высказывания (На заседании присутствовали...; в Президиум избраны...).

(from here)

  • A great reference covering my case and much more. Very helpful, educational, and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! – safesphere May 7 '19 at 18:59

Correct is a very vague term in this particular case. Grammatically correct would be "встретили", plural.

De-facto in real life, in casual speech one can easily hear "встретил" and Russian native speaker would perceive it without batting an eye.

  • Is there a reference to quote? – safesphere May 7 '19 at 7:34
  • @safesphere if you want me to find some web source where something similar to what I've just stated is said - there are such sources. However if you want to just prove your point that plural is wrong nothing will convince you enough. – shabunc May 7 '19 at 7:40
  • Sorry, my question is phrased this way for clarity, but I don't have a point to prove. I just want to know what is correct. I agree that plural is probably correct, but Russian grammar is not always obvious. Sometimes it allows alternatives, sometime uses logic, and sometimes is just hardcoded. Here logic can go both ways, so intuition fails, and I just want to know if there exists a rule for this particular case. – safesphere May 7 '19 at 7:47
  • @safesphere grammar is not something set in stone, de-facto usage is important as much. The fact that an editor will most likely correct "меня встретила мама с папой" doesn't cancel the fact that this is how we speak ) – shabunc May 7 '19 at 7:50
  • Understood. To clarify, my question is not what a native speaker would understand, but if a published rule actually exists. Russian grammar is not set in stone, because it can change over time. However, at any particular point in time it is pretty much set in stone, and whenever alternatives are allowed, it is usually clearly stated. At least this has been my impression :) – safesphere May 7 '19 at 8:04

In general the rules are quite long and complicated. You may try to read this if you dare.

But taking your example, it's about (slightly) different meanings. Меня встретили Аня и Сергей means They both met me, while Меня встретила Аня и Сергей is rather She met me. And also he did.

So the plural here should be preferred unless you want to stress that particular difference. However, in common speech people rarely pay attention to it (and if they really do, they also use an intonation of some sort to be properly understood). So it is common to use singular and plural in such sentences interchangeably.

  • A great reference. Thank you so much! +1 – safesphere May 7 '19 at 19:00

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