Russian Language Grammar

    Coordinate Conjunctions

1. Coordinate conjunctions joining words or sentences

и – and

день и ночь

day and night

работать и учиться

to work and to study

Он опоздал, и мы сели обедать без него.

Не was late, so (lit. and) we sat down for dinner without him.

и may mean as well:

Он и мне написал.

Не wrote me as well.

и is occasionally repeated with enumeration:

Гром пушек, топот, ржанье, стон,

И смерть и ад со всех сторон. (Пушкин)

Canon thunder, trampling of horses, neighing, moans,

And death and hell from all sides.

a – and

Посидим немного, а потом пойдём.

Let us sit for a while, and then we shall go.

В саду дерево, а около него скамейка.

There is a tree in the garden, and near it a bench.

да – and

Щи да каша – пища наша.

Cabbage soup and (buckwheat) gruel – that's our food.

(Of comparatively limited usage, and characteristic of colloquial speech, as in the saying given above.)

Notes :

(a) The conjunction да is used sometimes when identical words are repeated:

споры да споры

arguments and arguments

А он всё пишет да пишет.

And he keeps on writing and writing. 

(b) The conjunction a, when simply joining two clauses, may have a meaning close to и:

Жена поехала в город, а через час я поехал за ней.

My wife went to town, and an hour later I went to fetch her.

However, a is more frequently used to express contrast or opposition. 


тоже – also

Люди сильно проголодались, лошади тоже нуждались в отдыхе.

The men were quite hungry, the horses also needed a rest.


также – as well, also

Класс решил задачу; я также решил её.

The class solved the assignment; I also solved it.

Note: Тоже and также are usually adverbs. The examples above show their rather infrequent usage as conjunctions. In contrast with other conjunctions of the same type, they do not stand at the beginning of the second clause.

не только ... но и – not only ... but also

Я говорил не только с ним, но и с ней.

I spoke not only with him, but also with her.

ни ... ни – neither ... nor

ни он, ни я 

neither he nor I

и ... и – both ... and

и он и я

both he and I


2. Coordinate conjunctions expressing contrast or opposition

Those most currently used in this group are:

a – but, and (also: while, on the contrary)
но – but (also: however, on the other hand, just the same)

Both these conjunctions express opposition.

A introduces a contrasting idea (including antonyms), or simply a different idea:

Это не перо, а карандаш.

This is not a pen but a pencil.

Вам весело, а мне грустно.

You are having fun but I feel sad.

Здесь река, а там озеро.

Here is a river and there's a lake.

Ho expresses a stronger opposition, or an idea which is not a logical consequence of the first one expressed:

Я ему предложил поехать, но он решил остаться дома.

I offered him to go but he decided to stay at home.

Мы выехали поздно, но приехали вовремя.

We left late but we arrived on time.

Ho may also introduce a shade of limitation or compensation:

Ресторан дорогой, но он очень хороший.

This restaurant is expensive but it is very good.

The following examples will further illustrate the difference between these two important conjunctions:

Мой автомобиль здесь, а ваш там.

My car is here and yours is over there.

Сегодня погода хорошая, a вчера погода была плохая.

Today the weather is fine, but yesterday it was bad.

Он живет в городе, а не в деревне.

Не lives in the town (and) not in the village.

Костюм не новый, а старый.

The suit is not new, but old.

Мой автомобиль здесь, но я иду пешком.

My car is here, but I am going on foot.

Сегодня погода хорошая, но холодная.

Today the weather is fine, but it's cold.

Он живёт в городе, но я не знаю его адреса.

Не lives in town, but I don't know his address.

Этот костюм не новый, но хороший.

This suit is not new, but it's good.

A comparison between the examples above shows that those containing а could be rewritten without this conjunction:

Мой автомобиль здесь. Ваш там.

Сегодня погода хорошая. Вчера погода была плохая.

Он живёт в городе. Он не живёт в деревне.

Костюм не новый. Он старый.

This would not be possible with the examples containing но. The logical continuity would be broken.

Additional Rules:

   (a)   The conjunction a may also express an unexpected result by joining two sentences, the second of which is not a logical consequence of the first. This happens with the adverbs уже and ещё:

Уже поздно, а вы всё работаете.

It is already late and you are still working.

Сейчас одиннадцать часов, а он ещё спит.

It is eleven o'clock and he is still asleep.

   (b)   Sometimes, either conjunction a or но may be used, or either one may be omitted. This would merely correspond to a stylistic difference.


Летом здесь жарко, а зимой холодно.

In summer it is hot here, and in winter it is cold.

(A contrast in statements)

Летом здесь жарко, но зимой холодно.

In summer it is hot here but in winter it is cold.

(A stronger contrast, with зимой emphasized in speech)

Летом здесь жарко, зимой холодно.

In summer it is hot here, in winter it is cold.

(A simple succession of statements, said casually, with no particular emphasis)

Летом здесь жарко – зимой холодно.

In summer it is hot here – in winter it is cold.

(A contrast emphasized in speech by a pause in place of the dash)

Other conjunctions may express contrast or opposition:

однако – however

Он сказал, что он напишет, однако до сих пор не написал.

Не said that he would write; however, he has not written yet.

Note: Однако is stronger than но:

Он серьёзно болен, однако надежда есть.

Не is seriously ill; however, there is hope.

а то – otherwise

Ты сегодня же должен поговорить с отцом, а то он будет беспокоиться о твоём отъезде.

You should talk with father today, otherwise he will be worrying about your departure.

же – whereas, but, and

Раньше мы виделись часто, теперь же видимся очень редко.

Before we saw each other often, but now we see each other very seldom.

Же, unlike a or но, follows the contrasting word.

всё же – yet, still, just the same

Я знаю, что это трудно – всё же надо постараться это сделать.

I know it is difficult, yet we must try to do it.

зато – on the other hand, but (then)

Квартира дорогая, зато она очень удобная.

The apartment is expensive, but (then) it's very comfortable.

The statement following зато compensates the preceding one.

да – but, but then

Я б пошёл, да уже поздно.

I'd go, but it's too late.

Да is close to но but it is not used as widely. It is also somewhat colloquial.


3. Coordinate conjunctions expressing choice or alternation

или – or; or else; otherwise

сейчас или никогда

now or never

Он должен уехать, или я погибла. (Тургенев)

Не must leave, otherwise I am lost.

Они говорили по-итальянски или по-испански.

They were speaking Italian or Spanish. (Choice: Not knowing the language, I could not tell.)

Дома мы говорим по-русски или по-английски.

At home we speak Russian or English. (Alternation: Sometimes English, at other times Russian.)

или ... или – either ... or

Он уезжает или в конце июля, или в начале августа.

Не is leaving either at the end of July or at the beginning of August.

либо – or

This conjunction is used less frequently than или (and not in the meaning of "otherwise"). It is currently used in the compound form:

либо ... либо – either ... or

По вечерам мы либо читаем, либо слушаем музыку.

In the evenings we either read or listen to the music.

то ... то – now ... then

Странная погода: то жарко, то холодно.

Strange weather: now it's hot, then it's cold.

To ... то expresses alternation, precluding simultaneity.

не то ... не то – either ... or

не то снег, не то дождь

either rain or snow

He то ... не то expresses choice, not alternation.


4. Coordinate conjunctions having an explanatory meaning 

то есть (abbreviated to т.е.) – that is, i.e., "I mean"

Он уезжает в среду, то есть через три дня.

Не is leaving on Wednesday, that is in three days.

Сейчас четыре часа, то есть две минуты пятого.

It is now four o'clock, I mean two minutes past four.

не то что, не то чтобы – not, not really

He то что(бы) холодно, но всё же прохладно.

It's not really cold, but still chilly.

именно, а именно – namely, to be exact

В то время, а именно два года тому назад, мы работали вместе.

At that time, namely two years ago, we worked together.