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I often run into a case where I need to say I have a doctor's appointment, but how would I properly punctuate it if I wanted to use the abbreviation Dr. instead of the word doctor? Dr.'s appointment looks strange to me.

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In an informal note, I think Dr.'s is fine. –  GEdgar Jan 6 '13 at 1:12
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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Basically, the word doctor is a noun, and is the one to be used in any regular form of speech or writing.

Dr., on the other hand, is an honorific. Like Mr., Mrs., or Prof., it isn't meant to be used as a noun at all.

To answer more directly, there is no proper way to use the abbreviated form to indicate possesion, as it isn't a noun.

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I think you mean title rather than salutation. –  Kosmonaut Jan 27 '11 at 15:06
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It feels more like an honorific. –  grieve Jan 27 '11 at 15:21
    
I meant honorific, but couldn't think of the word. Where I come from (Britain) a title is very different. A title also takes precedent over an honorific when addressing someone. A Lord who is a doctor will be called "your Lordship" or some such. –  Carmi Jan 31 '11 at 19:35
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The abbreviation Dr should only be used preceding the doctor's name to refer to him or her. It is poor style to use it otherwise.

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I agree with everything except your last line. Why can't it be called a "doctor's appointment"? –  Kosmonaut Jan 27 '11 at 14:59
    
Doctor could mean a person with a doctorate and not one in medicine. Saying that is better to say medical appointment, though, is not true; everybody would understand that doctor is referring to a qualified practitioner of medicine. –  kiamlaluno Jan 27 '11 at 15:11
    
If I buy a pair of men's shoes, it doesn't mean they belong to all men, and if I speak to my mother's friend, it doesn't mean she belongs to my mother. –  Kosmonaut Jan 27 '11 at 15:13
    
However, there is trend to drop such apostrophes: dict.leo.org/forum/… Style Manual for Authors, Editors & Printers (John Wiley & Sons): Nonpossessive and generic phrases. In phrases such as drivers licence, travellers cheques and visitors book, the plural noun is descriptive rather than possessive. As it describes an association with the following word rather than any direct ownership, no apostrophe is necessary. Phrases such as drivers licence and travellers cheques have become merely generic ways of referring to common items. –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 5 '13 at 23:56
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I have seen many times they use "Dr.'s". I think it's okay to use it. But if you don't like it this way you can use "doctor's".

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I think when you use "Dr" or "Dr's" (with or without the period) as an abbreviation for Doctor, it's fine if used in an informal setting. After all, you are abbreviating the word "Doctor" in a generic sense, rather than referring to the use of "Dr. Smith" (honorific).

For example, if you were texting someone or posting a "Tweet", either of the abbreviated forms (with or without the period) would be as acceptable as the unabbreviated form.

But, in formal usage, I would stick with the unabbreviated form (Doctor, Doctors or Doctor's). For example if I was writing a letter to my employer, I would say "Doctor's" instead of "Dr.'s or Dr's".

Also...

There has been some discussion by others of the "possessive" nature of using "Doctor's".

In your case: "where I need to say I have a doctor's appointment" it's pretty clear what is meant, but in a general sense, it could lead to confusion and I would try to find another way to word it ...

If you say "Doctor's appointment", is this "an appointment with my Doctor", or is it "an appointment belonging to my Doctor"? To avoid confusion you could say "Doctors appointment" (omitting the (') apostrophe), but I think it would be clearer to say "an appointment with my Doctor" or "an appointment to see my Doctor".

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