(I searched this site, and others, but couldn't find this question asked elsewhere. Apologies if it's been answered here already.)

If my Russian boss is a woman, and I'm asking questions using the past tense, which of these is correct:

1) Где Вы жили?


2) Где Вы жила? (<---- the 'a' ending to reflect that she is a woman)

My (non-native) ear says the first is correct, but I've encountered versions of #2. (Examples below taken from "reverso context" site)

<<Это же киноактёр! Вы работала горничной и у них тоже.>>

<<Судя по этому письму, вы хотела создать документальный фильм, на основе видео последнего прыжка Артуро.>>

Thanks in advance for any insight.


When we say "Вы" addressing a person of whatever gender the corresponding verb must always be in plural, that is end with "и".

For example: "Где Вы жили? Где Вы были вчера? Что Вы кушали на завтрак"? - it's the same to say to woman / man - because "Вы" hasn't got any gender, it's just plural form that we use also when speak with respect.

  • Thank you, turik97. I just wonder...What of those examples I found? – greginjapan May 16 '19 at 7:06
  • 2
    @greginjapan The context.reverso examples are wrong. They must either end with 'и' or there should be Ты instead of Вы. I don't know where they are taken from. Can be just a typo or a bad machine translation. – tum_ May 16 '19 at 9:31
  • @greginjapan your second example is grammatically incorrect probably because they use machine translation - of course thanks to them you can understand the meaning but it makes some mistakes – turik97 May 16 '19 at 12:18

The form of a verb must always be consistent be consistent with noun or pronoun. So your ear is right. You should use first form and those examples you have found are erroneous.

There are some dialects where it is possible to say "Вы пошёл домой" but even there it is informal form for addressing old relatives or other well-known persons (not so formal but with deep respect).

  • 2
    what exactly dialects are you referring to? – shabunc May 16 '19 at 8:59
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    "Вы пошёл домой" - there are no situations when you can use it, it's not right – turik97 May 16 '19 at 12:10
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    It's kinda "He are went home" – turik97 May 16 '19 at 12:23
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    My own grand relatives used exeactly such variants addresing my gandgrand relatives, and I heard it by myself. It was a "southen" dialect. And I am sure this didn't completly obsolete yet. – ksbes May 17 '19 at 13:38

I'm afraid turik97's answer is not fully correct.

For verbs and short adjectives, plural forms are to be used with "вы" of politeness: Вы жили/*жил/*жила, Вы мертвы/*мёртв/*мертва.

However, for long adjectives singular forms of the appropriate gender (female, for your example) are to be used: Вы злая/#злые (# not * because plural forms can obviously be used if addressee is really plural).

  • 1
    Hi Viridianus, I think I follow, although the )# * symbols are a bit confusing. << /#злые (# not * >> Still, if I understand correctly: If I'm speaking to my boss, who is a woman, and I want to ask her: What did you buy? Что Вы купили? (And not: Что Вы купила?) But if I notice she's mad (for example), I might ask: Почему Вы злая? ...and not... Почему Вы злые? – greginjapan May 19 '19 at 19:34
  • @greginjapan precisely. – Viridianus May 22 '19 at 21:49

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