There is a confusing word - а in Russian language. It can mean as "and" so "but" in different context. Let's consider when we have to use А. The difference is here: И is used in enumeration and imperative mood, А is used in other cases.

 

Сходи в магазин и купи арбуз. - Go to shop and buy a watermelon. This is an example of imperative mood.

 

Купи арбуз и картошку и масло. - Buy a watermelon and potato and a butter. This is an example of enumeration.

Я и ты. I and you.

Now let's see some examples of А:

-Привет, как поживаешь? - Hello, how are you?

- Хорошо, а ты? - Fine, and you?

As you can see, this is neither enumeration nor imperative mood in this example. As you could see in the beginning of this article - A can also mean "but". Here are two examples:

Она просила его подождать, а он уехал. - She asked him to wait but he has gone out.

Ему предложили поехать на дачу, а он не хотел. - He was asked to go to the country house but he didn't want.

In these cases А is equal to НО that means "but".

 

Once in university in one lecture a professor have made a digression from basic subject and told that it's a confused moment in Russian language for non-native speakers. Because it can't be explained when А and И must be used and it is based on brains of native speakers only. But it also have its rules! As I think, there are no anything in any language that can't be explained for language learner!

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