How do you do, Doctor?

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Senior Member
Hello, members.

The sentences are from "Patriot Games".

In the previous scene, Cathy showed her plastic ID card to the man and introduced herself that she is a doctor.
In the dialoge, can "How do you do, Doctor?" be interpreted as the man greeted and asked slightly if she is doctor?

"Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital." The surgeon extended his hand and gave Cathy a friendly, colleague-to-colleague smile. "How do you do, Doctor? My name is Charles Scott."
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    "How do you do, Doctor?" looks like an ordinary friendly greeting to me. I don't think the person who asked this question was truly confused about whether she was a doctor.


    Senior Member
    English - US
    The question mark is because "How do you do?" is a question. I would write, "How do you do, dhchong?" even though I know you are dhchong.

    Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    DhChong, you're probably aware of this, but in case you're not --

    How do you do is a fixed expression used only in rather formal speech and only as a greeting. It is essentially meaningless. You can treat it as a question and reply "Very well, and you?" but most people just reply to "How do you do" with "How do you do." I think this is probably the single stupidest thing we say all day long.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In fact, in writing it, we wouldn't normally use a question mark, since it's not in fact a question.

    Actually, I can't recall when I last heard anyone say "how do you do" upon meeting someone for the first time. We'd usually simply say "Hello" and/or "I'm pleased to meet you." Or if the speaker is a host or official and the other person is there for the first time, the speaker might also say "Welcome".


    Senior Member
    English - US
    A less-formal version would be "How are you doing?" (or "How ya doin' ?"), which may or may not require an actual response depending on the circumstances.
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