Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

bathroom or restroom in English

Do your friends tend to have get-togethers at their homes?

Maybe they have dinner parties a lot?

When you’re in someone’s home what do you say when you want to ask if you can use the bathroom?

Would you like to be sure you can do this correctly in English?

That is what we’ll show you today.

Today we got a question from a listener.

Is it okay to say ” Can I use the bathroom” when I visit someone’s house?

They would respond ” Of course!”

I am wondering if I sound childish.

-AEE Listener


To answer your question, I don’t think they are being condescending or that they think you are speaking like a child when they say “of course”!

That is just a common thing to say. It’s a polite response.

They want to be a good host and make sure you are comfortable.


Today we’ll talk about other ways to ask if you can use the bathroom in both someone’s home and in a restaurant.

The phrasing is going to be a little bit different when you’re in a public restaurant versus a private home.


Words for bathroom:

– Sometimes “bathroom” is a little bit casual, but I still use it. This is also my personal speaking style.

– “restroom” is more polite

– “powder room” My mom uses this term for the bathroom in her house on the first floor. It sounds old fashioned and feminine.

– “outhouse”

-“porta potty”


Words we don’t use in American English:

-“washroom” This is more Canadian English

-“The toilet” This sounds kind of rude and too direct

– “water closet”- We don’t use this


Someone’s Home:

A friend or acquaintance has invited you over for dinner or coffee. 

What can you say?

  • “I’m gonna run to the bathroom.” (more comfortable, you have already been shown the bathrooom)
  • “Sorry is there a bathroom that I could use?”
  • “Would you mind if I used your bathroom?”
  • “Could I use your bathroom?”
  • “Would it be possible for me to use your bathroom?” (This is better to use when they haven’t mentioned where it is or that it’s available yet)


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  • “Sorry, where is the bathroom?”
  • “Is the bathroom this way?”
  • “Which way is the restroom?”
  • “Where can I find the restroom?”


What’s the takeaway?

There are a bunch of different names for the bathroom in different English-speaking countries.

The level of formality of your question depends on whether you are in someone’s home and they have or have not shown you the bathroom before or whether you are in a restaurant.

Listen to natives, mimic what they do, don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know what to say.


What questions do you have?

Let us know in the comments below.

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