Thank you, Doctor. / doctor.

sb70012

Senior Member
Hello,
Suppose that you are writing a thank you letter to your doctor.

"Thank you, Doctor."
"Thank you, doctor."

I think, the first one is correct and the second one is wrong since "doctor" can be used as a title.

Am I right?

Thank you.
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think there is a clear rule here, but since the person's title is "Doctor" and since I imagine you don't want to appear disrespectful, you should certainly capitalise it.

    As I said, I don't think there is a general rule, and if you were to say "Thank you, mister," which is common enough in some situations, and then wanted to report this in writing, I don't think you would capitalise "mister", even though it is the person's title. Of course, "thank you, mister" is not something you would be likely to put in writing to the "mister" in question. You certainly would not capitalise a vocative that was not the person's title, something like "Thank you, my good man".

    There are some oddities, and a quick web search suggests that "sir" is generally not capitalised (except as a salutation at the beginning of a letter), even when it is the person's title, whereas "Your Majesty" is capitalised.
     
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    Ikwik64

    Senior Member
    British English, originally Australian
    Your doctor will be delighted to receive a thankyou letter and will not mind at all whether you capitalise it or not. Personally, I would use the uncapitalized form.
     

    Ikwik64

    Senior Member
    British English, originally Australian
    In that case, please ignore my first sentence. I still wouldn't use a capital, but as Uncle Jack said, there is no firm rule - it is a matter of taste.
     

    idialegre

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The word "doctor/Doctor" has two different functions. It can be the name of a profession, in which case it is not capitalized (unless, of course, it begins a sentence) and it can be an academic degree and title, in which case it is capitalized.

    Anyone who has a PhD, whether it be in medicine or literature, can call themselves Dr. In the USA, it's not very common for non-medical PhD's to do that, but it does happen, as in the recent flap over Dr. Jill Biden's use of her Dr. title, which is in some non-medical area. I recall that my high school phys ed teacher, who had a PhD in education, also called himself Dr. XXXX.

    As far as I know, in the USA, you have to have a Dr. degree in order to practice medicine. I could be wrong about that. I know that in Germany, for example, you can practice medicine without the Dr. title, and there are a number of doctors who just call themselves the German equivalents of Mr. and Ms. At any rate, the overlap between "doctor" as a profession and "Dr." as a title understandably creates confusion. I think that when we address a medical doctor directly, we call them "Dr. So-and-so," using their title, not the name of their profession. So I would capitalize it.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    But one American told me that Doctor SHOULD be capitalized in my sentence because it is being used as a noun of address. Note the phrasing, and the comma preceding it. Just as if the sentence read, "Thank you, Jeremy?"

    Common nouns in place of titles
    Common nouns can also be used as nouns of address. If the common noun is the title of a job or family member and is used in place of a person’s name, it should always be capitalized. For example:
    “How are you doing, Coach?”
    “I need your advice, Mr. President.”
    "Can you come with me, Mom?”
    “Pleased to meet you, Doctor.”

    The lesson is here: Nouns of Address

    That's why I am confused. Cambridge didn't capitalize it but Thefreedictionary has capitalised it.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I would not take the recommendation in Thefreedictionary too seriously. It seems to be presenting someone's opinion as the unerring truth. This is not a matter of right and wrong, but a question of a style to which can choose to adhere or not.

    Note that one of their examples is “It’s so nice to meet you, Doctor Jenner.” I would never write it like that. See #10. But the abbreviation Dr is always capitalized.

    Where I live, it is customary, when getting off a bus, to thank the driver. Not everyone does it, but most people just say "Thank you."
    Some people feel a need to address the driver, but they don't use Sir or Ma'am, and of course they don't know the driver's name, so they just say "Thank you, driver." -- It would never occur to me to render this as "Thank you, Driver." Why should a doctor be any different?
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Where I live, it is customary, when getting off a bus, to thank the driver. Not everyone does it, but most people just say "Thank you."
    Some people feel a need to address the driver, but they don't use Sir or Ma'am, and of course they don't know the driver's name, so they just say "Thank you, driver." -- It would never occur to me to render this as "Thank you, Driver." Why should a doctor be any different?

    What if we mention the driver's name? Still a lowercase letter?

    I mean => Thank you, driver Smith. or Thank you, Driver Smith.

    Which one should I use in writing?
     

    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English, with possible Australianisms
    I can't imagine anyone adding the driver's name to that expression of thanks. I'd say "thank you, driver" (without capitalisation).
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Drivers-Group-Photo-no-logos-on-trailers.jpgformula-one-mclaren-mercedes-drivers-heikki-kovalainen-2-l-and-lewis-D4CAYW.jpg

    What if we want to be funny or sarcastic in a specific context?

    Suppose a few bus/car drivers have got together somewhere (maybe in a competition or a party game) and a manager wants to praise them in a funny way since they are colleagues together.

    Well done, Driver/driver Smith.
    Good job, Driver/driver Smith.

    In such a context, should the word "driver" be capitalized?
     

    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English, with possible Australianisms
    The English language is flexible, and in some situations there may be no clearly defined rules. Understandably, this can be frustrating for non-native speakers.
     

    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English, with possible Australianisms
    I already gave you my answer. Sometimes there are no clear rules. Did you not understand that I meant you can choose whichever alternative you prefer, in that example?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    View attachment 72130View attachment 72131

    What if we want to be funny or sarcastic in a specific context?

    Suppose a few bus/car drivers have got together somewhere (maybe in a competition or a party game) and a manager wants to praise them in a funny way since they are colleagues together.

    Well done, Driver/driver Smith.
    Good job, Driver/driver Smith.

    In such a context, should the word "driver" be capitalized?

    If you dream up a very unlikely context, you have the right to do whatever you like with it. Of course, capitalisation doesn't happen in spoken English, and it's so unlikely that this will be written anywhere, that there is no established rule about what would be 'correct.'
     
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