2
  1. Hi, chief. How are you doing?

  2. I just talked to the chief.

Should chief be capitalized in the two examples above. In both examples chief is referring to the Chief of Police.

3
  • Good question. My initial thought was "yes," because it's part of an official title. But that reasoning fails because other titles like Doctor or Professor, and ranks like Sergeant, can be used without being capitalized (I just talked to the doctor... the sergeant saluted). I still think the answer is yes, but I can't pin down precisely why.
    – TypeIA
    Mar 7 at 13:27
  • @TypeIA "The sergeant saluted." is not the same thing as referring to someone by their title, e.g. "Chief told us to get back to work."
    – ColleenV
    Mar 7 at 13:34
  • 1
    (1) Yes, because it's a form of address. ‘You take milk in your tea, Doctor?’ asked Jack. (Patrick O'Brian) (2) Yes, I think so, because he's the only Chief of Police (in this district). Mar 7 at 14:53
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Q. Hi, chief. How are you doing? -- I just talked to the chief.

Should chief be capitalized


In the first example I would say not necessarily. The word "chief" is often used in a slang context where the person you are referring to is not officially titled by the word Chief. Boss, chief etc. are often used as a form of respect albeit in some cases mockingly, rather than as reference to an official title.

However in the second example it is more likely that the chief referred to is officially titled by the word Chief. In which case it must be capitalised.

I just talked to the doctor... has no reference to which doctor. Doctor Brown

the sergeant saluted again no reference... The Regimental Sergeant Major saluted...

If it’s a name or a title, capitalize it!

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