Published: 05.07.2021
Did you know that punctuation marks in the Russian language are often used differently than in English?

For example, in English you need to put a comma after places and dates, but not in Russian. Compare:

In 1991, Armstrong competed in his first race – В 1991 году Армстронг соревновался в своей первой гонке.

Here are some basic rules of Russian punctuation:

1. In Russian, you do not place a comma before AND:

a table, two chairs, and a bed – стол, два стула и кровать

Exception is the case when "И" introduces a separate part (clause) of a sentence. The thing to watch out for is the presence of a separate subject in the next clause of a complex sentence.

For example: Она открыла дверь, и в комнату вошёл её муж. You need a comma here because there is a separate subject in each part of the sentence.

2. In Russian, all relative clauses are set off by commas:

The candidate who best meets these requirements will obtain the place – Кандидат, который лучше всего соответствует требованиям, получит работу.

3. In Russian, comma is always put before conjunctions: что, кто, который, где, когда, как, потому что, чтобы еtc.
  • I know that you are tired – Я знаю, что ты устал (-а)
  • I want you to become a famous singer – Я хочу, чтобы ты стал известным певцом

4. Always put a comma in front of conjunctions А and НО:
  • I speak Russian, and she doesn't – Я говорю по-русски, а она нет.
  • I would love to go, but I'm busy – Я бы с удовольствием пошёл, но я занят.

5. Always separate an if-clause by commas
  • She said that if he comes, she'll be really happy – Она сказала, что, если он придёт, она будет очень рада.

6. Commas must be used to separate an insertion consisting of one word – such words as "for example", "perhaps", "thus" etc.
  • Of course it's important to finish today – Конечно, важно закончить сегодня.
  • It's not always cold in Russia. For example, in Petrozavodsk, it's 25-30℃ in summer – В России не всегда холодно. Например, в Петрозаводске 25-30 градусов летом.

7. In Russian, we generally use exclamation marks more than in English. Maybe we want to add some emotions to a text.

We use exclamation marks in letters/emails, even formal ones, after the address (where a comma is normally used in English). For example:

  • Dear Ivan Ivanovich – Дорогой Иван Иванович!
  • Dear passengers – Уважаемые пассажиры!
  • Dear friends – Дорогие друзья!

Any questions about when to use a comma or any other punctuation mark in Russian? Ask in a comment!

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