The structure of the surface formate on Ag(110) at 300 K was studied by near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) at the carbon K-edge. Interpretation of the NEXAFS spectra of the formate intermediate with a localized bond picture is inconsistent with the findings of previous vibrational studies. Rather, the resonances must be assigned to transitions to delocalized molecular orbitals, whereupon the results agree with the bidentate configuration deduced from the vibrational experiments. A bonding geometry is determined with respect to the surface normal in which the O-O direction lies parallel to the plane of the surface; no azimuthal ordering was detected. The molecular plane appears to be inclined at an angle of 30 ± 15°. This apparent tilt may be due to a dynamical motion of the species about the surface normal in which the molecular plane oscillates and rotates about the surface normal. These results indicate different bonding geometries for formate on Ag(110) and Cu(110). © 1990.