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My son brought home his 1st Grade homework... I seem to think the 1st sentence is correct....

Which sentence is written correctly?

  1. I visited Dan, the Doctor.

  2. I visited Dan, the doctor.

Any help with clarifying why either is correct would be appreciated.

  • This is a side note: I believe it is not standard to capitalize the word "grade" in "first grade". Also, most style guides recommend writing out small numbers like "first" in full rather than using forms like "1st" in running text. – sumelic Apr 25 '17 at 21:15
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    It depends on whether Dan is that one timelord. – MetaEd Apr 25 '17 at 21:25
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    The capitalized Doctor indicates a title, and could be correct in a sentence like "I visited Dan the Doctor." (In a parallel construct with Bob the Builder.) However, when used with a comma, the clarifying statement "the doctor" is unlikely to be a title - it is much more likely a clarifying phrase, differentiating Dan, the doctor from Dan, the butcher or Dan, the drunken bum. – Laughing Vergil Apr 25 '17 at 22:40
  • @Laughing Vergil Fine response, and since you've 'answered' using a comment, I'll not spend time chasing down the duplicate I know exists. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 25 '17 at 23:06
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As pointed out in the previous answer, the second sentence is correct; there is no need to capitalize 'doctor' in 'the doctor', but the same word is capitalized (usually in its abbreviated form) when it comes as a title before the doctor's name. Doctor is also capitalized in direct speech (but not reported speech) when used as a form of addressing a doctor.

I visited Dan, the doctor.

I visited Dr. Dan, the physician. (can also write Doctor Dan, but uncommonly used in full form)

"I can see now, Doctor!" the patient said.

The patient told the doctor that he could see now.

It is general convention not to capitalize occupational nouns like doctor, teacher, engineer, plumber, tailor and priest when used in sentences. HOWEVER, capitalization is used for the official titles of heads of state such as President and Prime Minister, and specialised titles of exceeding respect such as His Holiness, Holy Father, and (in countries that are monarchies) King or Queen.

The Prime Minister of India met with the President of the USA.

Pilgrims waited to meet the Holy Father.

There were more than 70 visitors, but His Holiness spoke a few words to each of them.

They made high quality stationery for the Queen.

  • About your 3rd example of capitalizing 'doctor', does that apply to all professions? 'How are you, Chef/Nurse/Driver?' – LWTBP Oct 24 '18 at 13:55
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The second sentence is correct. The word "doctor" is describing Dan, but not addressing Dan with the title of "Doctor" or "Dr." Alternatively, the sentence could read, "I visited Doctor Dan."

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