How to use a dash in Russian

Dash between subject and verb

If the subject and predicate are expressed by nouns, we are used to putting a dash between them. But this is not always necessary.

A dash is not put when the particle “not” is used with the predicate : Your beliefs are not true . However, if the sentence contains the construction “not … but …”, which implies opposition, then the dash is necessary : Your beliefs are not the truth, but the result of your experience .

Another nuance is associated with words that can stand between the subject and the predicate. If this is an introductory word , circumstance, addition, union or particle, the dash will be superfluous.

  • Vasily, of course, is a kind person, but he will not let himself be offended.
  • Science is now the basis of his picture of the world.
  • This book is just the beginning of his career.

Also, the sign is not put if the subject is expressed by a personal or demonstrative pronoun.

  • I am a food lover.
  • This is cat food.

But in some cases, and after the subject-pronoun, it is allowed to use a dash:

  • If the offer is a question that is accompanied by surprise: Is he the director of the company?!
  • If a specific item is underlined: This is cat food. And it’s cat food.
  • If there is a contrast in the sentence: I am the boss, and you are the subordinate .

Dash after generalizing word

Usually, a colon is placed after the generalizing word if the homogeneous members of the sentence come after it. The morning sun filled everything around with light: a forest glade, a small wooden house, a lake and mountains.

However, modern reference books write that now a dash can also be used in such a situation. Petya put everything from the table into the bag – notebooks, pens, books and a folder with documents.

Dash in a compound sentence

A colon is usually placed between parts of a complex sentence:

  • If the second part indicates the reason and we can mentally add the conjunction “because”. He did not have time to say anything: everyone around began to argue, interrupting each other.
  • If the first part contains the verbs “see”, “hear”, “know”, “understand” and the like, and the second part is a statement of fact or description. I peer into the darkness and see: someone huge is making his way through the forest.
  • If the second part of the complex sentence explains the first, reveals its content. He was late through no fault of his own: his bus broke down on the highway when it was approaching the city.

However, there is a tendency in all such situations to use a dash rather than a colon. And modern reference books agree that this is not an error.

But if the explanatory part is a complex sentence, then the colon is required. He realized that in order to win in this dispute, you just need to not participate in it.

Dash instead of hyphen

Applications with a defined word are most often written with a hyphen: contemporary artists, foreign guests .

However, instead of a hyphen, a dash is needed if any of the parts consists of more than one word: artists are contemporaries of Leonardo da Vinci ; Fair guests are foreigners . By the way, the application can also be written in numbers: Olympics-80 , but the Olympic Games – 80 ; “House-2” , but “The Lord of the Rings – 2” .

Also, a dash, not a hyphen, is placed if two proper names together call some kind of doctrine, phenomenon or other integrity: Boyle-Mariotte law , Leonhard-Shmishek test .

A dash should always be used between numerals written in digits . No spaces needed: 1941–1945 , 30–35 years, XIX–XXI centuries.

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