Friday, March 18, 2016

Q&A: When To Put Comma?

Forgive me if you've been asked this already, but how do commas work in Russian? I instinctively pause whenever I see one, but I understand this isn't the case?
That’s a good question!

Yes, in most cases, you can pause when you see a comma, but Russian punctuation is not about intonations and pauses. It is about predication. Generally, whenever you have a predicative core (Subject + Verb/predicate in any other forms), you have to separate it from another predicative core with a comma.

Я уверена, что мы поедем в Мексику. I’m certain that we’ll go to Mexico.
Я уверена - the first predicative core, we will go - the second predicative core.

Also, participles and adverbial participles may count as predicates under some certain conditions, so they are separated from the main sentence:

Он подумал и, взвесив все за и против, решил, останется дома. He thought a while and, after considering all pros and cons, decided that he’d stay home.

And, of course, we use commas for listing. Though we do not have the “Oxford comma”, and after the final “and” we do not put commas:

У меня есть кот, собака, пони и единорог. I have a cat, a dog, a pony, and a unicorn.

Do you have a question for me? Shoot it!

Photo by Steven Mueller