If I call a person doctor, instead of Doctor XXX, will this person assumes that I forget his name?

When I talk with another person, I said:" I wish to study in doctor's lab." At that time, the doctor is just next to me.

  • 13
    I have the impression that this is more common in India. Also: We did that in Sir's class. We learned that from Miss. These are uncommon in the US.
    – GEdgar
    Dec 3, 2015 at 16:08
  • 8
    @GEdgar well, not only uncommon, I would actually say ungrammatical (in American English), but I'm not exactly a language expert. Perhaps something on English Language & Usage addresses it.
    – David Z
    Dec 3, 2015 at 20:16
  • @GEdgar I should say it is indeed uncommon in my country, China. I hope it is not offensive in the US.
    – Neo
    Dec 4, 2015 at 3:47

1 Answer 1


It is not common in my experience (first-language English speaker in the US) to call anyone just "Doctor" unless they are a medical doctor. In non-medical settings, you should always use their surname after the title.

On the other hand, it is OK to use just "Professor", if you are speaking to the person.

So you could ask, "Professor, can I take the exam tomorrow?" But not "Doctor, can I take the exam tomorrow?"

If you are talking to someone else, you should always use the surname, don't just call the person "professor" or "doctor" as if that was a name.

  • 11
    @neo don't worry no one in the really cares
    – StrongBad
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:04
  • 11
    I agree that this is not likely to cause anyone offense. Especially in academia where we are used to second-language speakers. Dec 3, 2015 at 14:49
  • 15
    @Neo Honestly, if the person has made it to being a professor they have forgotten so many people's name at this point that it likely didn't even occur to them that you forgot their name, and even if they thought you did they probably wouldn't be deeply hurt by it. They'd have to be amazingly thin-skinned, and that kind of person rarely makes it all that far in academia.
    – BrianH
    Dec 3, 2015 at 15:28
  • 6
    And if you use "Doc", people will think you're Bugs Bunny.
    – JAB
    Dec 3, 2015 at 15:29
  • 2
    @jab that or Marty Mcfly! Dec 3, 2015 at 21:49

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