62

I've looked this up online, but I can't find any explanations from reasonably credible sources, so I'm posting my question here! (Was that a comma splice?)

Should I refer to the appointment that I made with my doctor as a "doctor's appointment" or "doctors appointment"? What if I'm referring to more than one appointment with two different doctors?

2
  • Personally, I say "doctor appointment," as I plan to visit only one doctor. Better yet, "I have an appointment with my doctor." May 6, 2011 at 19:07
  • 4
    HaL is correct... and the more-than-one-appointment-more-than-one-doctor would be doctors' appointments.
    – Ben Voigt
    May 7, 2011 at 3:29

3 Answers 3

63

As the doctor also has an appointment with you, doctor's appointment is appropriate in its own right. It is also by far the most common as a set phrase:

ngram

Any other plural usage would be entirely subjective.

Graph source: Google Books Ngram

5
  • 4
    Totally agreed. It's a short transformation from appointment with a doctor to appointment of a doctor (which is the format used in French though rarely in English), which is the same as doctor's appointment. May 6, 2011 at 20:59
  • 4
    +1. Where did that graph come from?
    – Nate
    Nov 4, 2014 at 19:20
  • 4
    @Nate, the graph looks like a Google NGram graph to me.
    – chwarr
    Dec 17, 2014 at 20:38
  • 1
    Why don't we ever say "dentist's appointment" or "mechanic's appointment"?
    – GregNash
    May 17, 2019 at 13:23
  • 1
    @GregNash Good question. English can be weird, though sometimes it can be understood through tough thorough thought.
    – HaL
    Jan 16, 2020 at 13:22
8

You can use either doctor appointment or doctor's appointment. Merriam-Webster indirectly supports the latter with its second example under its listing for appointment.

I agree with tchrist that the word doctor in doctor appointment is a noun (attributive noun I believe), although the definition of an attributive noun is a noun used as an adjective, so maybe it's just semantics at some point.

To the point above about the appointment being reciprocal, I can sort of get on board with that. I suppose the doctor does have an appointment with the patient as well, but I think the emphasis is a bit off in that perspective because I think the ownership pertains more directly to the patient (just my take).

In any case, you should be okay with either usage above.

1
  • 1
    Why don't we ever say "dentist's appointment" or "mechanic's appointment"?
    – GregNash
    May 17, 2019 at 13:22
-3

In the phrase "doctor appointment" or "doctors appointment" the word doctor serves as a descriptive adjective that describes what kind of an appointment it is. In such a phrase the emphasis is on the word appointment. In the phrase "doctor's appointment" or "doctors' appointment" the possessive form of doctor shifts the emphasis away from appointment. Both ways are correct. It just depends on how you want your sentence to read. My preference is to use the possessive apostrophe only when it is important to express ownership.

1
  • 7
    No, this is incorrect: this is not an adjective, but a noun. Doctor is the first of two nouns in a noun–noun compound. You can tell this because you cannot say “a very doctor appointment” or “a doctorer/more doctor appointment”, which makes it clear that doctor is not used as an adjective here. Just because a noun happens to modify another noun does not it an adjective make.
    – tchrist
    Feb 27, 2013 at 15:53

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.