[Grammar] A children's doctor

nyggus

Key Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
Hi,

Articles again. I've just come across a phrase "a children's doctor"; I thought the a is incorrect here since it's attached to children—am I right?

Thanks,
nyggus
 

Lynxear

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
We would not refer to a doctor as a "children's doctor". He would be called a Pediatrician.
 

bubbha

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
Taiwan
"children's" modifies the noun "doctor". The "a" is not attached to "children", but to the noun phrase "children's doctor".
 

tedmc

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
Malaysia
Current Location
Malaysia
A pediatrician doesn't just deal with children but infants too right from birth.
 

nyggus

Key Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
"children's" modifies the noun "doctor". The "a" is not attached to "children", but to the noun phrase "children's doctor".

I see your point, but it's not what was taught. I was taught that in such phrases the a is attached to children. This page explain this issue, but now I am wondering whether it's the only way of seeing it.
 

Skrej

Key Member
Joined
May 11, 2015
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
I think you may have been taught correctly, but you're just confusing how "children's" is being used. You seem to be viewing "children's" as a plural noun, when in this sentence it's really functioning like an adjective. Since it's functioning as an adjective, treat it like you would any other adjective. The doctor doesn't belong to the children, children are simply the doctor's specific area of specialization (otherwise known as pediatrics).

Since the next word following the article begins with a consonant sound, use 'a' instead of 'an', unless you need the definite article. (I believe this is probably what you mean by "what I was taught").

Some examples:
A good doctor
An excellent doctor
A children's doctor
A heart doctor (aka cardiologist)

The good doctor
The excellent doctor
The children's doctor (here it could be referring to the doctor attending specific children)
The heart doctor
 
Last edited:

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
I was taught that in such phrases the a is attached to children.

You may not have been taught correctly on this issue. If you have a football game, where both are singular, what does the article connect to? Are you talking about a football or a game, with additional information about the type of game?
 

nyggus

Key Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
You may not have been taught correctly on this issue. If you have a football game, where both are singular, what does the article connect to? Are you talking about a football or a game, with additional information about the type of game?

"a football game" is different since it has no possessive. Hence my mistake. From Skrej's explanation I understand now the difference between "a children's doctor" and "John's doctor" (which is not "a John's doctor").
 

Lynxear

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
A pediatrician doesn't just deal with children but infants too right from birth.

Infants are not children? Nyggus has given us a two word phrase with no context. We have no idea as to the the age of the children.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

nyggus

Key Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
Infants are not children? Nyggus has given us a two word phrase with no context. We have no idea as to the the age of the children.

Sorry for lack of context—but I have to agree with you that infants "might be considered" children; if I sound cocksure, it's only because I have support from Merriam-Webster. At least in Poland, pediatricians manage health of children from the very first day of their lives.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
Not everyone knows the word paediatrician. If I were talking to a young child, for example, about a forthcoming appointment at a hospital (for the child), I might say "We're going to take you to see a special doctor. He's/She's a children's doctor and he/she will try to make you better!"
 
Top