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Punctuation: commas

We use compound sentences in Russian more often than simple ones. If you use compound sentences in your speech, instinctively make pauses and use correct intonation, you are not bad at Russian. To mark pauses in writing, we use different punctuation signs. In this article we are going to look at basic rules of writing commas in Russian sentences.

Well, we always write commas before the prepositions: А, НО, ЗАТО, and the conjunction ДА (it is rarer case, it's similar to the conjunction НО).

У нас мало солнца летом, зато много снега зимой - It is not so sunny in summer here, but we have a lot of snow in winter.

У нас зелёная машина, а у наших соседей красная - We have a green car and our neighbors have a red one.

Я хотел приехать раньше, но опоздал на автобус - I had wanted to come earlier but I missed the bus.

(Я хотел приехать раньше, да опоздал на автобус) - the same translation.

Comma is used between homogenous parts - words belonged to the same part of speech, put simply - enumeration of objects, qualities and actions - those cases, where we can write the conjunction И (and). However, if there is already the conjunction И, we do not need to write comma.

Зима была долгой, холодной.

Зима была долгой и холодной - The winter was long and cold.

We also do not write comma, if homogenous parts of a sentence denote different quantities.

Новый синий велосипед - New blue bicycle.

The words "новый" and "синий" are belonged to different categories of an object's qualities, it's newness and color, that's why we don't write comma here.

We write comma, when one big sentence includes several small. In other words, when we can divide a sentence into two (or more) parts and get distinct and complete statements. Such big sentence includes superordinate and subordinate clauses united with conjunctions: ПОТОМУ ЧТО (because), ТАК КАК (as/because), ЧТО (that), ЧТОБЫ (in order to/to), ОТТОГО ЧТО (due to/because of) and many others. Comma is used before a conjunction.

Мы изучаем русский язык, потому что он сложный и интересный - We learn the Russian language because it is difficult and interesting.

It is necessary to write comma, if you address someone in a letter.

Как ваши дела, дорогой друг? - How are you, my friend?

Папа, с днем рождения - Daddy, happy birthday.

There are also rules in Russian which prescribe to write commas with structures used with participles and adverbial participles, parenthetical words and comparisons.

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