Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Commas in Russian

  1. #1
    Hanna
    Guest

    Commas in Russian

    There must be different rules for when to use commas in Russian...! I keep seeing commas where I think there should not be any... Where can I find out more about how to use comma in Russian?

    Example (from Pimsleur, lol, sorry!) :

    Я думаю, что моей жене нужен врач. (Why is the comman needed?)
    I think that my wife needs a doctor.

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russland
    Posts
    9,882
    Rep Power
    19

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Russian punctuation is very close to the German one.
    In German, the sentence would be: Ich denke, dass meine Frau einen Doktor brauchst. (I believe you can understand this phrase and every word of it).
    I can't explain why the comma is needed. I could even ask, in reply, why it is NOT needed in English. So better just remember that you always should put a comma before "что" and "чтобы", for a start.
    Oh, and you also need it before "потому что" (and in this case you don't put it before the "что").
    Also, you should put a comma in cases when "что" is omitted, but implied. Like in English: I think she is ill vs I think that she is ill. In Russian it would be: Я думаю, она больна and Я думаю, что она больна. And in German the punctuation would be the same as in Russian (Ich denke, sie ist krank).

    Also, commas almost never are optional in Russian. There are strict rules.

    Another cases where we need a comma: we always around by commas the word "пожалуйста" and any form of addressing. Examples:

    In English
    Give me that book please.
    In Russian
    Дай мне ту книгу, пожалуйста.
    Дай мне, пожалуйста, ту книгу.
    Пожалуйста, дай мне ту книгу.


    In English
    You know(,) John, I remember you.
    Thank you(,) John.
    <-- this comma is almost always omitted in English, at least that's what I see on the Internet.
    In Russian
    Знаешь, Джон, я тебя помню.
    Спасибо, Джон.
    Джон, спасибо.

    This comma in Russian is obligatory.

    EDIT. Some more notes:
    We don't need a comma in Russian after an adverbial modifier of time and place. I HATE when people put those "English" commas in Russian! Examples:

    in English
    Yesterday, I saw your girlfriend in a shop. (you can't live without this stupid comma in English, okay)
    But in Russian
    Вчера_ (no comma) я видела твою подружку в магазине.
    By the way, in German, one doesn't put this comma either.

    in English
    In English language, we always put some stupid commas where Russians don't put them.
    In this excerpt of the book, I found a lot of interesting points.


    But in Russian
    В русском языке_ (no comma) мы почти никогда не ставим запятые там, где они ставятся в английском.
    В этом отрывке книги_ (no comma) я нашла много интересных мыслей.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  3. #3
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Olya, I don't think we use commas in your example sentences either.
    Yesterday I saw your girlfriend in a shop.
    In the English language we always put some stupid commas where Russians don't put them.
    (should be In English we....)
    In this excerpt of the book I found a lot of interesting points.

    I think a hundred or two years ago English had those commas there, though.
    OHFORTHEGOODOLDDAYSWHENWEDIDNTNEEDNOSTEENKINGPUNCT UATIONMARKSORSPACESBETWEENWORDS.
    =:^)

  4. #4
    Завсегдатай
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russland
    Posts
    9,882
    Rep Power
    19

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Quote Originally Posted by chaika
    Olya, I don't think we use commas in your example sentences either.
    I would be happy if all those people who ALWAYS use commas in sentences like those all over the Internet would think the same.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  5. #5
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Other Universe
    Posts
    8,501
    Rep Power
    26

    Re: Commas in Russian

    There are many rules concerning Russian punctuation. I cannot say I remember them all, still I try to put commas where I think they should be (i think that the knowledge has transferred somehow into my sub-consciousness and sometimes it fails me).

    There are some rules of thumb though:

    You always put a comma before the unions: a and но
    You put a comma before и only when it joins two sentences.
    You put comma before and after you name a person you address to.

    There are couple dozen more rules, but I think they all can be found somewhere in a grammar book.
    Send me a PM if you need me.

  6. #6
    Почтенный гражданин
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    176
    Rep Power
    7

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil
    You put a comma before и only when it joins two sentences.
    This one is tricky, by the way. Only complete sentences with verb and subject count. I never could get it quite right even at school.


    Они пойдут туда и обязательно вернутся. No comma.
    Они пойдут туда, и они обязательно вернутся. Comma.
    Они пойдут туда, и поэтому мы остаёмся здесь. Comma.

    Or so I understand it anyway. As I complained already my punctuation in these cases is too often wrong.
    I often edit my posts five times or so, after I've sent them. Sorry for any confusion, feel free to correct me.

  7. #7
    Старший оракул
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    936
    Rep Power
    13

    Re: Commas in Russian

    "Потому что" is also tricky. You can put comma either before "потому" or between "потому" and "что" with marginal difference in a sense of a sentence.

    I have some more "simple" rules for you. They are about participial clause and adverb participial clause.

    You put commas before and after a participial clause if it follows the word it modifies.
    В этом сочинении много запятых, поставленных неправильно, и других ошибок.
    В этом сочинении много неправильно поставленных запятых и других ошибок. (no comma)

    You put commas before and after an adverb participial clause. Always.
    Перепишите упражнение, правильно расставив запятые, и исправьте другие ошибки.
    Расставив запятые, он сдал тетрадь учителю.
    Налево пойдёшь - коня потеряешь, направо пойдёшь - сам голову сложишь.
    Прямой путь не предлагать!

  8. #8
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Оля, me too. But I just posted on the EFL board a link to a study lamenting the spread of illiteracy among English students. Things like using "cuz" in an essay instead of "because", and treating commas as if they were confetti to be strewn about. We have to accept that far from everyone who can type on a computer can also think.

  9. #9
    DDT
    DDT is offline
    Завсегдатай DDT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    I have given up the Gambling, the Wine and the Cows!.. I'm back now! ....nope Im gone again!
    Posts
    3,364
    Rep Power
    14

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Quote Originally Posted by chaika
    Olya, I don't think we use commas in your example sentences either.
    Yesterday I saw your girlfriend in a shop.
    In the English language we always put some stupid commas where Russians don't put them.
    (should be In English we....)
    In this excerpt of the book I found a lot of interesting points.

    I think a hundred or two years ago English had those commas there, though.
    OHFORTHEGOODOLDDAYSWHENWEDIDNTNEEDNOSTEENKINGPUNCT UATIONMARKSORSPACESBETWEENWORDS.
    =:^)
    I think that there is a difference between what is accepted in British English and US English, as far as comma placement goes. I do know that in British English they use a lot more commas. At least that is what I have read about it on some web-site explaining the different writing styles between US, UK, Journalism and formal writing styles.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

  10. #10
    Почтенный гражданин studyr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Бауманская, Москва Skype - alr0lbxrl
    Posts
    384
    Rep Power
    8

    Re: Commas in Russian


  11. #11
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16

  12. #12
    Hanna
    Guest

    Re: Commas in Russian

    For some reason this one slipped off the horizon for me...
    Thanks Olya and everyone else for the explanations.

    I will not prioritise commas right now, but it's clear that I will have to learn these rules at some point..

    Also, I think I know how this works: Russian actually has a different intonation in the sentences than what a speaker of a Germanic or Romance langauge would expect... The commas seem to simply reflect this. So if you know how to read out a sentence, you'd know where to put the commas.

    But I have to say: All my life when I heard Russian, I always thought that the intonation sounded very strange, long before I knew any words in Russian or could understand anything. I never felt that way about other languages that I don't speak, but hear from time to time... Like Dutch or.. Italian.

    That's why it's so important to listen to a lot of spoken Russian and not just read, and also to hear sentences read out (that's why I asked for this a few times...). You can always work out how to pronounce a single word - but with a sentence, it is never indicated which word to emphasise.

    This is one of the most noticeable mistakes that Russian speakers (and many others who are not from Western Europe) make in English. They emphasise the wrong word in the sentence and the whole sentence sounds strange even though the actual words were pronounced correctly.

    I am sure there is some clear logic to where the emphasis in a Russian sentence goes. Perhaps it's easier for speakers of other Slavic languages to instinctly feel where to put the emphasis.

  13. #13
    Завсегдатай
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Russland
    Posts
    9,882
    Rep Power
    19

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Russian actually has a different intonation in the sentences than what a speaker of a Germanic or Romance langauge would expect... The commas seem to simply reflect this. So if you know how to read out a sentence, you'd know where to put the commas.
    I don't think that works with Russian. Otherwise all natives would always put commas correctly.
    Commas in Russian don't reflect the intonation. They rather reflect logic. For example, there is no reason (for me, at least) to put a comma after an adverbial modifier of time in a sentence like "Yesterday, I did someting". No reason, no comma. Intonation doesn't matter here.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  14. #14
    Hanna
    Guest

    Re: Commas in Russian

    Yes of course, that must be right...
    I thought I cracked it because I heard a sentence read out which contained a comma in an unexpected place -- this was reflected in the reading of the sentence.
    Perhaps that was just chance...

    And as you know.... I have "bigger fish to fry" in my Russian studies than commas. I think I'll get to those in about a year from now! But now that I know that it's different I can make an effort to look out for it. If I ever start reading as I keep planning to do, then maybe I can proper Russian punctuation from that.

Similar Threads

  1. Commas and prepositions
    By Vladi in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: February 21st, 2010, 04:57 PM
  2. English commas, oh my God...
    By Оля in forum Learn English - Грамматика, переводы, словарный запас
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: November 19th, 2008, 04:25 AM
  3. using commas in Russian
    By krobatshov in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: December 30th, 2005, 11:18 AM
  4. Commas in English
    By Tu-160 in forum Learn English - Грамматика, переводы, словарный запас
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: July 7th, 2003, 09:56 AM
  5. Commas
    By ataman-jr in forum Tech Support and Site Comments
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: June 6th, 2003, 12:07 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


Russian Lessons                           

Russian Tests and Quizzes            

Russian Vocabulary