Translation:There are only two pencils left in this box.
Why is осталось? I thought остались was right bring two pencils plural. Any tip?
Since no native speaker gave a reaction, I decided to do some research on how остаться works in sentences and came up with the following(I'm not 100% certain if this info is correct, I've gathered this info from various sources as it was hard to come by a clear explanation. Hope a native speaker will take a look at this and correct it if need be):
When you want to emphasize a quantity of objects, animals or people in a sentence, use осталось(regardless of their gender or number):
There are only five cars left in this garage. В этом гараже осталось только пять машин.
There are only two computers left in this office. В этом офисе осталось только два компьютера.
But... when you have a sentence where quantity is used for an object AND something is specified about the object, use the plural form of the verb(or it's fitting gender form in case of 0 or 1):
- There are still seven people left unanswered. Ещё семь человек остались без ответа.
When the goal of the sentence is to emphasize a certain object or objects, then use it's proper gender or plural ending of the verb:
There is only a cat left in this room. В этой комнате осталась только кошка.
There are only cats left in this room. В этой комнате остались только кошки.
These rules aren't written in stone according to what I have read, one thing just seems more natural than the other in particular situations.
I think быть seems to work in an analogous way, right? E.g. "Здесь было два карандаша." I'm shaky on the rules surrounding that as well, but I feel like I usually if not always see it in "there were"-type sentences with the basic format "Place + neuter past-tense verb of state + number + thing." I could be way off on this, but it's the pattern I've noticed so far.
Yes I've come across similar situations with быть as well, for example: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12655833$from_email=commentcomment_id=26138437
"There were no plates in the store." В магазине не было тарелок.
Было seems to treat the plates as a group, whereas(I think) В магазине не были тарелок stresses the difference of each plate, they could be different in size and color etc.
These links probably explain it better than I could:
If "left" is a verb here, why should one use "there are"? Can I say: "In this box, only two pencils left"?
Now that's an interesting question. Here's my take on the answer: it cannot be the main verb in the sense we want (i.e. "remaining"). It's the past participle here, so it needs a main verb.
It can't be transitive - with a pencil, that could only be used in the sense "the pencil left a mark". And it can't be intransitive, because a pencil usually can't leave (i.e. "depart") by itself, and that's not the meaning we want anyway.
Maybe someone who teaches English grammar could weigh in?
П.С. I forgot to answer the second question. Sorry, no. That would be taken to be either a missing verb, or "two pencils (on their own, somehow) departed". )))