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Thread: I need a doctor

  1. #1
    Bewildered Guest

    Default I need a doctor

    Hi,

    Quite simply, I can't work out how to correctly punctuate 'doctors', as in their surgery.

    If you are going to view the surgery of a particular doctor, you could quite justifiably write, "I am going to the doctor's surgery" (i.e. the surgery of a specified doctor).

    Equally, if you were visiting the surgery of two doctors, you would write, "I am going to the doctors' surgery" (i.e. the surgery of a specified number of doctors).

    But if I want to express the more general sentiment of needing to visit a doctor, how would you punctuate, "I need to go to the doctors surgery"?

    Neither feels right, because in either case it feels like you're being too specific to a doctor, or to several doctors, whom you don't necessarily know well enough to specify. It's almost as if 'doctors' possesses an adjectival quality that transcends possession as in the two cases above.

    A similar question mark seems to hang over solicitors, as in a solicitors practice. It feels horrid to write, "I'm going to a solicitors' practice", because the numbers don't seem to add up. But "I'm going to a solicitor's practice" is unlikely, because most practices would surely have more than one solicitor.

    Any ideas? In all my years of being gramatically pedantic, I've never discovered a suitable explanation.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    In general, I'd simply say that I need to go to the doctor. If I wanted to use the possessive, I'd use the singular because I'm only interested in seeing one doctor, regardless of how many work there.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by Bewildered
    Hi,

    Quite simply, I can't work out how to correctly punctuate 'doctors', as in their surgery.

    If you are going to view the surgery of a particular doctor, you could quite justifiably write, "I am going to the doctor's surgery" (i.e. the surgery of a specified doctor).

    Equally, if you were visiting the surgery of two doctors, you would write, "I am going to the doctors' surgery" (i.e. the surgery of a specified number of doctors).

    But if I want to express the more general sentiment of needing to visit a doctor, how would you punctuate, "I need to go to the doctors surgery"?

    Neither feels right, because in either case it feels like you're being too specific to a doctor, or to several doctors, whom you don't necessarily know well enough to specify. It's almost as if 'doctors' possesses an adjectival quality that transcends possession as in the two cases above.

    A similar question mark seems to hang over solicitors, as in a solicitors practice. It feels horrid to write, "I'm going to a solicitors' practice", because the numbers don't seem to add up. But "I'm going to a solicitor's practice" is unlikely, because most practices would surely have more than one solicitor.

    Any ideas? In all my years of being gramatically pedantic, I've never discovered a suitable explanation.

    Many thanks.
    I am a little lost here. The first sentence is about you watching the procedure, right? If that's the case, your sentence sounds a bit awkward. would say:
    I am going to watch the doctor/s perform a surgery.
    I am going to watch/view a surgery being performed by a team of doctors.

    If you are the one having the surgery, I am pretty sure it will be performed by a doctor and not some kwack, so you don't have to mention the word "doctor" in your next sentence (unless you want to mention his name).

    "I need to go to a doctor's surgery" just doesn't sound good.

    I need a surgery.
    I need to have a surgery.
    I need to see a doctor.

    Not sure what you mean by going to a solicitor's practice.
    Do you mean seeking a legal advice? Usually we can only afford one lawyer at a time (if that) but I don't think you need to specify any exact number. In most cases we see only one lawyer...family, criminal and what have you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    I agree with what has already been said. In addition,

    The doctors don't own the surgery, they work there, so use,

    I'm going to observe an operation (performed by doctors Marque and Bourn).

    Similarly,

    I'm going to the law offices of Brown, Able, and Sloan.
    I'm going to a law office.
    I'm going to my lawyer's office.
    I'm going to my lawyer's.

    I'm going to the doctor's office.
    I'm going to the doctor's

  5. #5
    Hotspur Guest

    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Cheers for the replies, although I wasn't really asking for a way of paraphrasing the sentence. I think perhaps I wasn't clear enough on what I meant. I wasn't referring to surgery as in medical operations. After all, if you're being pedantic, very few GPs (the most common meaning of the English term 'doctor') actually conduct anything more than the most minor surgery. I was referring to the building where you go to receive diagnosis.

    In England, we normally say "I'm going to the doctor's", but the same query applies, because 'doctor's' refers to his building, i.e. the surgery. In this context, as I explained (somewhat cack-handedly, it would seem), "doctor's" feels wrong, because it is not necessarily the surgery (i.e. medical practitioners' building) of one solitary doctor. Equally, though, it doesn't look or feel right to put it as " I'm going to the doctors' ", although I would probably err on the side of this option if pushed.

    All I was looking for was some ideas about a grammatical rule that could govern this case. A similar question arose at work over the sentence: "it is an idiots guide to writing a novel". 'Idiots' clearly requires an apostrophe, but where?

    'Idiot's guide' sounds like a guide written by an idiot, or a guide for one solitary idiot.

    But 'Idiots' guide' in the context looks wrong because of numbers: "it is an idiots' guide" still doesn't feel quite right, although surely makes more sense (after all, the books are 'for dummies', not 'for dummy').

    I do understand you can write around these cases, but if you say something, you should be able to write it. Any ideas?

  6. #6
    Hotspur Guest

    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by Marylin
    I am going to watch the doctor/s perform a surgery.
    I am going to watch/view a surgery being performed by a team of doctors.

    If you are the one having the surgery, I am pretty sure it will be performed by a doctor and not some kwack, so you don't have to mention the word "doctor" in your next sentence (unless you want to mention his name).

    "I need to go to a doctor's surgery" just doesn't sound good.

    I need a surgery.
    I need to have a surgery.
    I need to see a doctor.
    Equally - just as an afterthought - I've never heard anyone say "I need a surgery". If you're referring to medical procedures, you would say "he requires surgery". Not sure if this is a difference between American and English speech, but I doubt it. "Surgery" as a quantifiable noun (how I meant it) is a building: "surgery" as an abstract noun means medical procedures.
    Last edited by Red5; 20-Jan-2005 at 09:06. Reason: Corrected BBCode

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hotspur
    Cheers for the replies, although I wasn't really asking for a way of paraphrasing the sentence. I think perhaps I wasn't clear enough on what I meant. I wasn't referring to surgery as in medical operations. After all, if you're being pedantic, very few GPs (the most common meaning of the English term 'doctor') actually conduct anything more than the most minor surgery. I was referring to the building where you go to receive diagnosis.

    In England, we normally say "I'm going to the doctor's", but the same query applies, because 'doctor's' refers to his building, i.e. the surgery. In this context, as I explained (somewhat cack-handedly, it would seem), "doctor's" feels wrong, because it is not necessarily the surgery (i.e. medical practitioners' building) of one solitary doctor. Equally, though, it doesn't look or feel right to put it as " I'm going to the doctors' ", although I would probably err on the side of this option if pushed.

    All I was looking for was some ideas about a grammatical rule that could govern this case. A similar question arose at work over the sentence: "it is an idiots guide to writing a novel". 'Idiots' clearly requires an apostrophe, but where?

    'Idiot's guide' sounds like a guide written by an idiot, or a guide for one solitary idiot.


    But 'Idiots' guide' in the context looks wrong because of numbers: "it is an idiots' guide" still doesn't feel quite right, although surely makes more sense (after all, the books are 'for dummies', not 'for dummy').

    I do understand you can write around these cases, but if you say something, you should be able to write it. Any ideas?
    Well, your letter became a lot easier to read this time and unfortunately, until we do know what you mean, we can't help you.
    Not to say, I will help you this time as I am still in a grey zone on some of your questions.

    1. "I was referring to the building where you go to receive diagnosis".

    This is not what you asked before.

    OK. I live in North America so I am totally unfamiliar with the way Brits run their medical services.

    You go to the doctor. Say you got pain in your big toe and can't walk. The doc sends you to a medical clinic for an X-ray.*
    medical clinic is usually a place that holds many offices of doctors with different specialties. It might also have a number of labs ( blood labs, kidney dialysis, etc) or even diagnostic facilities ( MRI scans, bone density scans, ultrasounds, etc) all in the same building (if it's a large clinic). You can be sent to the hospital as well to get your tests done.

    So, you go for your Xray and the doctor working right there will write a report of his findings. Then you see your familiy doctor who will read the result of that Xray to you. Guess what... you got a bone spur, Hot Spur.
    Sooo, the building you are talking about would be a medical clinic or a hospital that would read the Xray film or the MRI imaging to be sent later to your physician. That's the diagnostic part you were asking about

    I am going to the doctors sounds perfectly normal to me...by no means I am interested in pushing your opinion as it really won't change mine whatsoever.

    Equally - just as an afterthought - I've never heard anyone say "I need a surgery".

    Terribly formal as far as I am concerned. Need a surgery is far more common. Again, I don't have a clue how Brits go about it. I will leave it at that.

    Hopefully Casiopea can shed more light on your doctor/s+apostrophy rules and questions. Your original sentences sound awkward to me and I would definitely stick to a medical clinic.

  8. #8
    Hotspur Guest

    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Okay, sorry for not being clearer on the first attempt. It sounds like it's rare to say 'surgery' referring to a building in US English - I didn't realise that, so sorry for the confusion.

    You're completely right about "I'm going to the doctors" being correct - as I said in my second post, that's what we say more often than not. When I said it didn't feel right, I meant punctuating it with an apostrophe in either position didn't feel right. The words are definitely right - just not sure about the punctuation.

    Interesting to note your views on 'a surgery'. Would like to know what everyone else thinks. At any rate, UK English would regard that as completely incorrect if referring to a medical procedure. It's a non-quantifiable noun, much in the same way as you couldn't say "I was experiencing a happiness" (unless in a very unusual context).

    Marilyn, you sounded a bit hostile in your reply - hope I haven't offended you! Not criticising what you said at all - just interested in getting people's views.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    In Britspeak a surgery is what we Americans would call a doctor's office. That could be the cause of some of the confusion. The questioner is, I think, not going to watch a surgery but going to a surgery (going to see the doctor). Being used to that usage of the word surgery, Tdol, I think, probably answered the question best.



    [Edited to correct a horribly embarrassing spelling mistake.]

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I need a doctor

    Marilyn, you sounded a bit hostile in your reply - hope I haven't offended you! Not criticising what you said at all - just interested in getting people's views.
    I am sorry you took it that way. I am just standing firmly by what I said. At the same time I can't relate to the way English is spoken in other countries. If you live in Britain, there is a huge chance that my response will not be what you're looking for. Even though we speak the same language that seems to be govern by the same rules, it's still so different at the same time.
    Hope you will get more help with your apostrophy questions from someone else.
    Last edited by Red5; 20-Jan-2005 at 09:07. Reason: Corrected BBCode

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