Restroom or Bathroom?

Shana Goodwin, November 8, 2021

Almost all of my students have asked me this at some point: What’s the difference between “restroom” and “bathroom”? When should I use each?

The answer is very simple: in my own house, I say “bathroom,” but when I’m in other people’s houses, or in public, I use “restroom.” It’s slightly more formal and a little more polite. A bathroom is a bathroom whether or not it actually contains a shower or bath. Other polite names for a bathroom are: washroom, men’s room, and ladies’ room.

So when you’re looking for a restroom in a public place, you might ask, “Excuse me, where are the restrooms?” or “Do you know where the washroom is?”

And in a friend’s or acquaintance’s house you would call it the same thing: “Do you mind if I use the restroom?” or “Would you mind showing me where the washroom is?”

And in your own house, within your family, you could say, “When was the last time you cleaned the bathroom?” or “Please go wash your hands in the bathroom.”

For more helpful restroom vocabulary and practice, check out this great lesson from ESL Library.