First time posting here, so excuse me in case of bad formatting. I have come across several cases where either singular or plural is used and it sounded very counterintuitive to me. Some examples:

  • Прошло десять лет с момента появления в России первых трансгенных культур. (why not пришли?)

  • Для покраски трубы тепловой электростанции потребуется восемь тысяч килограммов краски (why not потребуются?)

  • Нашей футбольной команде до чемпионского титула осталось пять шагов. (Why not остались?)

It seems to me that what follows from this is that genitive plural is matched with a singular neuter verb ending. However:

  • Раздался выстрел, и несколько диких уток поднялись над озером (why not поднялось?)

Finally, two more cases I found and don't understand the difference of:

  • На нашем факультете многие из девушек интересуются футболом.
  • На нашем факультете многих девушек интересует футбол.

I would greatly appreciate any explanations or tips. Thanks!

  • "(why not пришли?)" You probably have a typo in your question. I suppose it should be "прошли"
    – kletnoe
    Feb 6, 2020 at 10:07
  • It is an example from the textbook "Учебно-Тренировочные тесты по русскому языку как Иностранному B2-C1. The key in the back of the book says прошло is the right answer. Feb 6, 2020 at 10:11

4 Answers 4


In Russian, the predicate for complex subject (meaning aggregate of multiple subjects) may have either grammatical agreement (singular) or semantic agreement (plural). That is determined by meaning of subject and context.

In general, grammatical agreement is chosen for subject meaning a single whole. And vice versa, if subject is meant as composite semantic agreement is chosen.

Particularly, measure of distance, capacity or time duration (as in your first three examples) regards as single subject. Therefore verbs are singular: прошло, потребуется, осталось.

In next example, ducks go up one by one so subject consist of more then one individual subjects. Therefore verb is plural: поднялись.

Finally, in your last question (about girls and football), there isn't fundamental difference. But, depending on sentence composition, semantic accent shifts.

In first sentence, active voice is used and so the subject many girls are accentuate.

In second sentence, peculiar analogue of passive voice is used and so the object football is accentuate.


The preferable (or mandatory for a context) choice depends on the prevalent meaning, focus of the message: whether it is about 'how many' (the verb is matched with the quantitative word only) or about e. g. 'which ten years' (the verb is matched with the subject - a noun, combined with the quantitative word).

Прошло десять лет с момента переселения в Россию Жерара Депардье. [сколько?]
Отведённые на решение проблемы десять лет прошли впустую. [какие десять?]
Для покраски этой трубы потребуется восемь тонн краски. [сколько?]
Для покраски трубы потребуются запасённые нами восемь тонн краски [какие именно восемь тонн?].
Нашей футбольной команде до чемпионского титула осталось пять шагов. [сколько?]
Остались следующие пять шагов: 1/16 финала, 1/8 финала... полуфинал и финал. [какие пять?]
Раздался выстрел, и несколько диких уток поднялось над озером. [сколько?]
Оставшиеся несколько уток ещё не умели летать. [какие несколько?]
На нашем факультете многие девушки интересуются футболом. [какие девушки?]
На нашем факультете множество девушек интересуется футболом. [сколько девушек?]


This is something that took a long time to sink in for me when I was learning Russian.

Прошло десять лет с момента появления в России первых трансгенных культур. (why not пришли?)

Question, why not прошли? There are 10 years after all. Not one year. So why singular.

Perhaps due to the absense of articles (a/the) or presence tense "to be" (is/are) in Russian, perhaps not. But Russian sentences like this are built in a way that is using an impersonal construction where there is sort of an unspoken 'it' in the sentences.

Perhaps a way of looking at this is like "It has happened that ten years have passed" for Прошло десять лет ... Where the verb пройти is conjugated according to the "it" in the "in has happened that"

It is an impersonal construction in a similar way that dative case is applied when you say - мне холодно - "to me it is cold"

Or in this example

Для покраски трубы тепловой электростанции потребуется восемь тысяч килограммов краски (why not потребуются?)

It's sort of saying "To paint the power station's pipes it is required that (потребуется) ..."


Well, these are impersonates that are very common in Russian.

Although, one can use also a "direct" form, but an impersonate is often preferred if the subject isn't a real "doer" of the action. Like "the steps" or "the kilos" (cf. "It takes ..." in a possible English translation). However, "the ducks" do fly, so an impersonate there sounds weird.

But it's not a strict rule. So "the years" may pass quite okay, as such idiom is pretty much common. Hence both "прошло десять лет" and "прошли десять лет" are in use. The difference is rather stylistic (cf. "it's ten years after" vs. "ten years passed").

So think it like this: if in English you'd rather use "it" (or add some other "missing" subject) then it's impersonate in Russian; and it's direct if not.

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