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The mysterious "-"

how do i use it? why do they have it? what does it mean?

it's been confusing me for some days now and i just can't figure out how to use it, why it's there or what it means?

December 6, 2015



It is good question. But how to answer it in English, I don't know. ) So,

тире нужно ставить:

— если оно в предложении служит заменой словам «это», «а», «но». В таком случае тире позволяет избежать тавтологий: «Почему нельзя есть много конфет? Потому что это вредно. Лучше ешьте яблоки. Есть яблоки – полезно»;

— если тире может заменить один из членов предложения: «не влезай – убьёт!» — пишут на трансформаторных будках, и ни у кого не возникает вопроса, кто же может вас убить;

— в предложениях, где первая часть служит темой, а вторая – её расшифровкой: «горнолыжный спорт – отличный вид активного отдыха»;

— как обозначение расстояния или периода времени: «поезд Киев — Москва», «отопительный сезон (октябрь – апрель)»

— когда две части предложения противопоставлены друг другу: «не было у бабы хлопот – купила поросёнка»; — после перечисления, перед обобщающим словом: «телефон, ключи, сигареты – содержимое моего кармана»;

— там, где в устной речи ставятся логические паузы: «долго искал смысл жизни – да так и не нашёл»;

— при неожиданном исходе ситуации, при быстрой смене событий: «сыр выпал — и с ним была плутовка такова » ;

— для оформления прямой речи, вначале и в конце: «– За буйки не заплывать! – кричал спасатель купающимся»

And do not attach so much importance - even Russians don't know how to use this. ))


There are lots of cases where you need to put the dash: 1) Between 2 nouns (usually. But second one can be other part of speech, not verb) if one of them works as a subject and another one as a predicate (there might be "это" before the predicate): Яблоко - это фрукт. 2) When you omit a word in a sentence (usually a verb and if you already said this word before): Мы были на даче, они - в городе ("We were in the countriside, they (were) in the city" - you omit "были" here). Я хотел купаться, петь и загорать, она - только спать ("I wanted to swim, sing and take sunbathes, she (wanted) only to sleep" - you omit "хотелa" here). 3) With suffixes -то, -либо, -нибудь and prefix кое- : кое-кто (somebody), что-то (something), кто-либо (anybody). NB: You dont have spaces around the dash here. This dash is a part of the word, it doesn't separate them. 4) In long sentences between two parts (each of them has a subject and a predicate(s), so they exist separetly as sentences) if second part explains or elaborates the first one, or second one is a concequence of the first one (NB: there is no conjunction between these parts): Я хотел в горы - мы пошли в горы ("I'd wanted to go in the mountains (hence) we went in the mountains" - The second part is a concequence). Не ходи туда - там медведи ("Don't go there (because) there are bears there" - the second one explains why you shouldn't go there, the second one is a reason of the first). 5) In direct speech: - Hi! - Hi! - he answered. "Я не хочу," - подумал он ('I don't want' he thought). NB: If you put direct speech after the author's words then it will be: Он подумал: "Я не хочу". 6) The period of time or distance between two points (you will see it in ads or notices): Поезд Москва - Владивосток (Train Moscow - Vladivostok). Here the dash means basically from smth to smth.

There are some other cases, but they are more rare, so don't mind them :) Hope it will help


In number 3 it is not a dash (тире), but a hyphen (дефис, aka чёрточка).


it looks more like an Em dash than a hyphen. I can't seem to make it the conventional way (typing two hyphens) in Duolingo.


Is it the question about punctuation (—) or orthography (-)?


It is a punctuation mark indicating the verb "to be" (which of course is omitted in Russian.
For example, утка - птица (a duck is a bird). The "-" stands were we would say "is" in English.

You don't use the "-" when you are using pronouns, though. I think this is explained in the Notes for the first lessen (Alphabet)


I think it is just a hint for the learner on Duolingo, you don't actively use it. In English (and a lot of other languages) the verb can't be dropped at all which is strange for most learners. So the dash is a hint that you see a complete sentence before you instead of a phrase or just some words to translate.


I see it everywhere in Russian. It's not a Duolingo thing. The dash will tell you if you need to use the Accusative or Nominative case as well. Sentences with the dash use Nominative and regular sentences use Accusative. There's a lot more cases than those two, fyi.


What did you mean when you said, “Sentences with the dash use Nominative and regular sentences use Accusative”? Can you give us an example? I don’t see how the presence of a dash affects choosing the case of any noun, adjective, numeral or pronoun.


Actually "—" is fairly common in Russian writing. It acts like a replacement for the verb "is/are" in most cases.

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