Conjunctions connect the clauses of compound sentences.
                 


The Causative Conjunctions

Causative subordinate clauses provide the cause of the state or action expressed in the main clause, e.g. I drink milk because I like cows. In this sentence the dependent clause, introduced by because, tells us why I drink milk, where I drink milk is the main clause. Russian subordinate clauses are very similar: Я пью молоко, потому что я люблю коров. The two causative conjunctions in Russian, потому что is clearly a remant of regular T-K constructions meaning "for that".

Russian has two widely used causative conjunctions, потому что "because" and так как "since". In general, так как is used at the beginning of the sentence, when the causal clause is placed first. Потому что is generally are used internally. However, it is possible to use both in either position. A third causative conjunction, ибо, is marginally used, mostly by older Russians.

It is important to keep conjunctions meaning "because" distinct from the causative preposition из-за+Genitive which means "because of", e.g. Из-за него я опоздал на лекции "Because of him I was late for class." This preposition may also be used as a conjunction if accompanied by a dummy pronoun: Я опоздала на лекции из-за того, что он задержал меня по дороге "I was late because (of the fact) that he delayed me along the way." As usual, this preposition implies a negative or undesirable outcome.

Here are a few examples to consider. Read them over carefully, comparing them with the translations and noting the various meanings of the causative conjunctions and how they translate into English.

"In order to" "For . . . to"
Он поехал в Москву, потому что жена хотела.
He came to Moscow because his wife wanted to.
Так как жена хотела поехать в Москву, они поехали.
Since his wife wanted to go to Moscow, they went.
Он надел теплое пальто, ибо мама так сказала.
He put on a warm coat because his mama told him to.
Он надел тёплое пальто, потому что мама сказала.
He put on a warm coat because his mama told him to.

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© 1996 Robert Beard