Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
Verb Agreement - Is or Are?
Friday September 17th 2021
What is the correct verb form in this sentence? "The keys to the car (are, is) on the table." — Shel, Philippines

The correct sentence is "The keys to the car are on the table."

To find out whether you should use 'is' (3rd person singular) or 'are' (3rd person plural) you need to determine what the subject of the verb is.

What is on the table? The keys to the car. But should the verb agree with 'keys' or 'car'? In the phrase "the keys to the car" the noun that is important (the noun that is the subject) is 'keys' because "to the car" is a prepositional phrase that describes the keys. (Learn about prepositional phrases here.) The car is not the subject of the sentence. You can see this more clearly by taking out the prepositional phrase:

The keys are on the table.

The car is not on the table!


I hope this helps.


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