"There were two beds standing in the room."
Translation:В комнате стояло две кровати.
I've seen neuter verbs in impersonal constructions, but this is new to me. How is стояло functioning here without agreeing with две кровати?
A verb in singular form can be used when the count, rather than the verb, is the important thing. If, in addition, it's in the past tense, the verb must be in neuter gender.
No, it mustn't. Tense doesn't make a difference.
When a combination of a number and a noun is the subject of a sentence, we can use both singular and plural forms of the verb. It depends on the meaning.
Singular form is used when
(1) the subject is passive (the two beds were standing = they were just existing there doing nothing);
(2) people/things are not passive, but they are doing the same thing together, and we consider them as a whole. Example: двести человек пришло на концерт (200 people came to the concert). A singular form is used, so we see these people as a mass; we're not interested in what they did individually;
(3) we want to emphasize the number, as slycelote have already said. Двести человек came to the concert. Not 300, not 400.
We use plural form when
(1) the subject is active;
(2) people/things are doing something individually. If 20 students are writing their theses, they can't do it together, right? Each one of them is writing their own thesis by themselves;
(3) emphasis is on the action, not number.
Source: http://new.gramota.ru/spravka/letters/22-spravka/letters/64-bolshinstvo (in Russian)
> No, it mustn't.
It must if it's in singular form...
> Tense doesn't make a difference.
Well if the verb is not in the past tense it can't have a gender.
Oh, now I see that you were talking about the gender of the verb that is ALREADY in the singular form. I'm sorry, my mistake. But it is still not completely correct. If the number ends with "один", the verb needs masculine gender. Also, if the quantity is expressed with a noun (like "пара" = "a couple of"), the verb should take its gender.
What about: "В комнате стояли две кровати"? is it correct as well or not?
Your choice would be without "there" = "Two beds were standing in the room" or "two beds stood in the room".