In the following sentence, should the word "doctor" be treated as a common noun, or should it begin with a capital letter?

The doctor will see you now.

  • In the general case, "doctor" is not a proper noun and should not generally be capitalized. With Dr. Who, however, it's more of a proper noun and should be capitalized. I can't quite put my finger on why, hence this is a comment rather than an answer. – phoog Jan 22 '16 at 18:05
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    It it's used as a title or a name, capitalize it; otherwise, don't. – deadrat Jan 22 '16 at 18:58
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    One could argue that "doctor" becomes a proper noun in "Mrs. Smith, Doctor will see you now," but that usage is uncommon in the US (though I believe that it's common in the UK). But when prefaced by "the" (and not part of a longer title), "doctor" is hardly ever a proper noun. – Hot Licks Jan 22 '16 at 23:17
  • The usual terminology for a noun that does not get capitalized is "common noun." – sumelic Mar 23 '16 at 2:17
  • Doctor? Doctor who? – AmE speaker Apr 26 '18 at 14:06

When you can add a surname to the sentence, it should be capitalised;

Doctor Smith will see you now

When it is a job description, (usually prefixed with 'a' or 'the') leave it out;

The doctor will see you now.

Think of 'Doctor' as becoming part of someone's actual name, and so when it's used to address a specific person, treat it like a proper noun.


It should always be capitalized when abbreviated to Dr., as in Dr. Trump.

It must never be capitalized if it's spelled out and not followed by a surname or Christian name. As in

"The doctor will see you now even though he doesn't really want to."

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    It's always capitalised when used as a prestigious title. 'The Doctor meets his old enemy, the Meddling Monk'. It's just rarely used as a prestigious title in everyday usage. However, Jane Straus, at GrammarBook.com conceded: 6a 'Capitalize a formal title when it is used as a direct address. The more formal the title, the more likely it is to be capitalized. Examples: Will you take my temperature, Doctor? We're sorry to report, Captain, that we're headed for choppy waters. That's what you say, mister. Good afternoon, sweetheart.' – Edwin Ashworth Jan 22 '16 at 23:49

protected by Community Apr 26 '18 at 17:24

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