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Sometimes you use a word-combination of 2 nouns to denote a quantity of entities: «большинство людей». Should a singular or plural form be used for a verb after that? I.e., «большинство людей не знает» or «большинство людей не знают»? Why?

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Both are used, i.e. in modern Russian these two forms are interchangeable in many context. Though, not always.

  1. If it isn't a two-word combination, but a single word denoting some concept which is formally a word in singular — then only formal grammatical agreement is correct, i.e. singular: Большинство не знает.
  2. Plural agreement is recommended in the following cases:
    • if you need to stress that the actions were performed independently and/or that the agents were active rather than passive: Большинство студентов хорошо написали дипломы.
    • if you have a long sentence and there are many words between the subject and the object: formal agreement will sound less clear in this case (you'll have to re-read the sentence to realise that the subject is formally a singular construction)
    • when you have several predicates: Большинство родителей любят своих детей, но не всегда знают их друзей.
    • if you have an adjectival phrase in plural that describes the subject. if the predicate contains adjective in plural: Большинство кошек в питомнике были полосатыми.

from http://www.gramota.ru/spravka/letters/?rub=bolshinstvo

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Actually, both are possible and interchangeable, according to the Russian grammar rules.

For example,

Большинство граждан проголосовало за нового президента
Большинство граждан проголосовали за нового президента

The second option is preferable:

  1. When the subject is separated from the predicate with another parts of the sentence:

    • Множество замечаний по содержанию диссертации и оформлению библиографии были высказаны молодому аспиранту.
  2. When the subject is separated from the predicate by an attributive construction:

    • Часть средств, вырученных от продажи книги, пойдут на содержание больниц.
  3. If the action of every participant is important:

    • Ряд сотрудников нашей организации выступили с этой инициативой.
  4. If there are two predicates:

    • Ряд учеников не считают выполнение домашних заданий необходимым и приходят на урок неподготовленными.
  5. If the predicate is formed by a noun or an adjective in plural:

    • Большинство домов в этой деревне были деревянными.
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  • Большинство проголосовало
  • Люди, составляющие большинство, проголосовали

In the first case, you are talking about a single entity - Большинство.

In the second, many entities, Люди.

Большинство людей is still a single entity. Людей is just a qualifier.

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