Is the following sentence missing commas? If so, where?: The robots are still functioning.

3 Answers
Mar 16, 2016

No. This sentence does not need any commas.


One of the ways to find if you need to add a comma to a sentence is to count verbs in the sentence. This sentence contains only one verb (are functionning) so it does not need any commas.

If you analyze for example a sentence: "If the temperature falls below zero, water freezes".

This sentence consists of two parts and each of them has its own verb. In the first part it is "falls", in the second it is "freezes". So a comma is needed to sepparate the two parts.

Mar 17, 2016

Just say the sentence how you would speak in regular english, and it doesn't make sense to have a comma in it.

Here are some ways where it might appear to have a comma but it really doesn't, and I include a potential continuation of the thought in parentheses to convey the new meaning of the sentence:

  • The robots are still functioning. (Indeed they are... I don't know about you though.)
  • The robots are still functioning. (Oh, so they're fine, right?)
  • The robots are still functioning. (They've been lasting for quite a while, haven't they? Still going, I see!)
  • The robots are still functioning. (So they function just well enough, then?)

However you want to emphasize the words, those are the most common words to emphasize. They may appear to imply a pause, but they are just emphases that draw attention to specific words.

Pauses that are justified to be marked by a comma are ones that separate clauses. A new clause starts when a new thought starts.

The robots are still functioning, so we should keep funding them.

Here, we have two separate clauses, separated by a comma and the coordinating conjunction "so".

The first thought supports the second thought, and the second thought follows from the first thought (that is, it would lack context without the central, first thought).

Jul 13, 2016

Your sentence is a single thought - a single clause.


There is no second clause that needs to be set off from the first, like this, for example:

"Most of the robots are still functioning, but one of them has died."

Here, there are two independent clauses that could be separate sentences, but they are combined by the conjunction "but" since the second clause amplifies the meaning of the first. It also makes for a more elegant expression that this:

"Most of the robots are still functioning. One of them has died."

A parenthetic expression in the middle would also need commas:

"The robots, even the old one, are still functioning."

The "even the old one" modifies "robots", giving more information.

A dependent clause following the first (independent clause) would need to be set off by a comma if, for example, if your sentence were this:

"The robots are still functioning, which is good."

The dependent clause, "which is good," cannot stand alone as a separate sentence (unless it were a question: "Which [one] is [the] good [one]?)

But in this situation, it's a dependent clause and is set off by commas. It cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.

The same is true of my sentence above, "The 'even the old one' modifies 'robots', giving more information."

In this sentence, "giving more information" has a verb - is a dependent clause - it can't stand alone.