20.2 - Punctuation ...

The most difficult aspect of mastering punctuation in any language is learning when to use which marks. Whilst this is not a priority when reading a text, you need to be familiar with punctuation marks to avoid confusion (remember Lynn Truss's panda who "Eats, shoots and leaves"?). The use of most marks in Ukrainian is similar to English, and only the principal uses of those which are different are discussed below.

Comma

The comma is used:

  • before the last item in a list, where you would expect and in English
Василь пішов до магазину купити сметану, молоко, хліб, яйця, сир. Vasyl went to the shop to buy cream, milk, bread, eggs and cheese.
  • to separate the items in a list containing і ... і (both ... and)
Василь забув купити і молоко, і яйця. Vasyl forgot to buy both the milk and the eggs.
  • before conjunctions introducing subordinate clauses, e.g. що (but not when що forms part of a compound conjunction, e.g. через те що)
Василь нагадав собі, що забув купити молоко і яйця. Vasyl remembered that he had forgotten to buy milk and eggs.

Dash

The dash is used:

  • to link and/or separate grammatically similar parts of a sentence
Податкова інспекція працює – підприємці бідують! The tax authorities are doing their job while business owners are feeling the pinch!
  • before a summarising word
На нашому сайті ви знайдете інформацію про культуру, історію, економіку – все те, що ви шукали. On our website you will find information on culture, history, the economy: everything you were looking for.
  • after the subject, with nouns in apposition, to replace the verb є
Україна – країна з тисячолітньою історією. Ukraine is a country with a thousand-year-old history.
  • in quoted speech and dialogue
– Живий? – спитала відсапуючись.
"Are you still alive?", she asked, trying to get her breath back.
– Живий, – відгукнувся стримано. Still alive , he responded restrainedly.
(Іван Багряний, Тигролови)

Quotation marks

Quotation marks usually have the form «...» (sometimes „ ... “):

«Переорганізація відбудеться у вересні», – повідомив міський голова. "The reorganisation will happen in September", said the leader of the town council.

Exercise 20.2A | Exercise 20.2B

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Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala