Is it correct to ask : How did it go at doctors?

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Is it correct to ask:

How did it go at doctors?

Not sure how to ask.

Pau

Posted 2018-11-27T23:15:14.673

Reputation:

2"How did it go" is a common, idiomatic way of asking about the outcome of an event. "How did it go at the doctor's/at school/at the interview, etc." You could also ask, "How did the doctor's visit go?" – WS2 – 2018-11-27T23:31:07.067

How did it go at the doctor's? – Anita May – 2018-11-28T01:20:06.440

Answers

8

There are two aspects to this: using the article, and how to punctuate.

(1) Using the article
In English, apart from a few exceptions, most common nouns like doctor require a "determiner", which includes articles (a/an and the), demonstratives (such as this and that), possessive pronouns (e.g. her, your) and quantifiers (e.g. few or all).

In your sentence, it's presumed that the reference is to a particular doctor, so the definite article ("the") would be typical. It would also be common to refer to that doctor or your doctor.

(2) Do we need an apostrophe?
This is a bit more complex, as it depends on whether the question is about your experience with the doctor or at the doctor's rooms/clinic, and also whether you're referring to a single doctor or multiple doctors.

If you use "at", then the question is about the place. The word "rooms" or "clinic" is assumed, and doesn't need to be spoken or written. Nonetheless, if you're writing the sentence it's important to indicate the possessive by using the apostrophe: doctor's. You would write:

How did it go at the doctor's?

[In the unusual situation that the person asking the question knew you were seeing more than one doctor, you would put the apostrophe after the plural form: doctors'].

However, it's quite standard to use "with" instead of "at". In this case, the reference is to the person rather than the location, so there's no possessive. You would write:

How did it go with the doctor?

This would also be the more appropriate usage if the doctor visited you rather than you going to them. The plural would also be more common in this situation, where a series of different doctors/surgeons had seen you (for example at your hospital bed):

How did it go with the doctors?

In spoken English
The difficulty when you hear the word "doctors" is that it might not be apparent whether the speaker means the possessive (doctor's), the plural (doctors) or the possessive plural (doctors'). Fluent speakers learn from experience to use a different construction if the meaning wouldn't be clear from the context - hence we would probably choose "with" if there were multiple doctors. Nonetheless, ambiguity between plural and possessive is not uncommon, and offers a rich vein for comedians and sitcoms.

Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica

Posted 2018-11-27T23:15:14.673

Reputation: 353

2I'd note that one does omit the article when using a proper noun, in most circumstances: "How did it go at Patrick's?" – Patrick Stevens – 2018-11-28T08:05:39.757

When I saw the title of the question I was also tempted to point out that in some Northern English dialects it is common to omit the article in certain circumstances (and perhaps lengthen the stop of the "t" in "at" to compensate). These sorts of dialects might be indicated in writing as "How did it go at t'doctor's?" but the extra "t" is rarely pronounced individually. – Muzer – 2018-11-28T11:08:25.817

One of the cases in which the definite article is not used, is when speaking of some kind of formal body, such as the annual conference of a political party. You will often hear: 'how did it go at conference'. That usage is not restricted to any particular dialect. Personally I dislike it, but who am I? – JeremyC – 2018-11-28T23:19:15.280

1@JeremyC I suspect that in most cases this would be because it's used as a proper noun - "how did it go at Conference". – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica – 2018-11-28T23:25:33.953

1

The expression is not correct. It would properly be "How did it go at the doctor's." You need the 'the' preceding 'doctor's' or else which doctor they went to is ambiguous. It is necessary to say 'doctor's' rather than 'doctors' because the implied object is 'the doctor's office,' with office being omitted.

eenbeetje

Posted 2018-11-27T23:15:14.673

Reputation: 154

2Although, to be complete, we should point out that some nouns don't require an article: How did it go at work? How did it go at school? How did it go in court? – J.R. – 2018-11-28T11:11:07.233