Conjunctions are a small yet crucial part of both Russian and English. In this post, we look at building up sentences with the help of conjunctions. We introduce the most frequently used conjunctions in Russian and show them in sentences to help you to learn how to use them. For a full explanation of any Russian grammar topic, order a Russian lesson with a native speaker.
What Are Conjunctions?
Conjunctions are words that link phrases and/or parts of sentences to create compound and complex sentences. For example,
Я говорю по-английски и по-русски. (Ya govoriu po-angliiski i po-russki.) – I speak English and Russian.
Наступила осень, и птицы улетели на юг. (Nastupila osen’, i ptitsy uleteli na iug.) – The autumn had come, and the birds flew south.
The Most Common Russian Conjunctions
In Russian, several groups of conjunctions are used in sentences.
“И” is one of the most frequently used conjunctions in Russian. It means “and” and has the same function as the conjunction “and” in English—connecting two independent clauses.
In this case, “и” links two sentences to create one compound sentence:
Пришла зима, и выпал снег. (Prishla zima, i vypal sneg.) – The winter came, and the snow fell.
Here “и” connects two homogeneous parts of speech:
Она увидела его и улыбнулась. (Ona uvidela ego i ulybnulas’.) – She saw him and smiled.
Also use “и” when you enumerate things:
У меня есть блокнот и ручка. (U menya est’ bloknot i ruchka.) – I have a notebook and a pen.
The next conjunction is “а.” This conjunction, which shows contrast, can be translated into English as “but” or “and”:
Я говорю по-испански, а ты нет. (Ya govoriu po-ispanskii, a ty net.) – I speak Spanish, but you don’t.
Я учитель, а он журналист. (Ya uchitel’, a on zhurnalist.) – I’m a teacher, but he is a journalist.
The use of “а” presupposes the presence of some unexpected situation:
Шёл дождь, а он не взял зонт. (Shyol dozhd’, a on ne vzyal zont.) – It was raining, but he didn’t take an umbrella.
The other widely used conjunction is “но,” the Russian analogue of “however” or “but.” It is also used in cases featuring an unexpected situation:
Я хотел встретить Новый год в Москве, но что-то пошло не так. (Yak hotel vstretit’ Novyi god v Moskve, no shto-to poshlo ne tak.) – I wanted to celebrate New Year in Moscow, but something went wrong.
It is used in sentences containing two opposite appraisals as well:
Она красивая, но глупая. (Ona krasivaya, no glupaya.) – She is beautiful, but stupid.
Here we have two components; the second one that comes after “но” is more important.
The last conjunction is “или” – “or.” It is used to connect two options.
Будете чай или кофе? (Budete chai ili kofe?) – Would you like tea or coffee?
Тебе нравится Москва или Санкт-Петербург? (Tebe nravitsya Moskva ili Sankt-Peterburg?) – Do you like Moscow or Saint Petersburg?
Practice Using Conjunctions in Russian
Learn the difference between these four Russian conjunctions and try to build up sentences and phrases with them. When you use what you’ve just learnt, you remember things better. How else can you improve your Russian? You can learn the language online with one of our professional tutors, of course.