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ESL forum > Ask for help > Bathroom or toilet ?    

Bathroom or toilet ?

Saudi Arabia

Bathroom or toilet ?
Can you tell me which better to learn sts to say in school
Can I go to the bathroom ?
Can I go to the toilet?
I think it ´s better to say     Can I go to the toilet?
but I don ´t know in the text books always we see     Can I go to the bathroom ?
What do you think ???

26 Sep 2011      


I ´d always go for ´toilet ´ in a school context. Better yet, I think ´may ´ would be the appropriate modal. Have you ever heard of this?:

Student: Can I go to the toilet?
Teacher: Of course you can, but you may not.

Have a nice day.

26 Sep 2011     

Pinky Makus

It depends what type of English you are teaching, American or British.  In Canada, asking to go to the toilet may get you a funny look.  We usually use the words washroom, bathroom, ladies room or men ´s room.  Here the word toilet refers to the thing you sit on not the room that it is in.

26 Sep 2011     


may is very formal, don ´t you think? I did teach my ss to use it though... My ss usually ask: may I go out? (sort of not to mention what is obvious:)

26 Sep 2011     

Puerto Rico

i teach american english and they say may i go to the restrooms?  since bathroom is what you have at home and  restrooms refers to the  public one.

26 Sep 2011     

Pauline Burke MSc

In Ireland we had to say "Do I have permission to go to the toilet please?" in Gaeilge (Irish), which is very formal, or we didn´t go.
Here, in Spain, my students usually say "can I go to the toilet please?".
I think ´may I go´is better English but try explaining that to elementary students!
Going to the bathroom has come from America, I even think it with an American accent.
Personally, I don´t know why we force children to ask. If they need to go, they need to go. Why can´t they just say excuse me and leave the room.

27 Sep 2011     


The students usually say: "Can I go out?", I prefer they don ´t mention where they go (drink water or use the restroom) because it may be embarrassing for shy students.
I ´d not ask them to use "toilet", I ´d rather use "restroom" if they wanted to state exactly where they go.

27 Sep 2011     


HI i usually teach students "may i go to the restroom/bathroom,please?". Now they prefer not to mention what are they going to do there, because some would make fun of others if they ask to go there. I also try to teach them to use break time for going there instead of lesson, because it disturbs everybody.

27 Sep 2011     


Here in Australia we "call a spade a spade ´ so we would say ´toilet ´.
Cheers Joy
ps ´to call a spade a spade ´ is to say exactly what something is and not pretend it is something else

27 Sep 2011     


All these comments and no English teacher has said "LOO" 
I always ask my students to say loo, it ´s an informal word for lavatory. "Toilet" being soooo common in the English language.

British English.   

My I go/be excused......... to/for.......... the loo.

Loo being the Queen´s English and used by upper class people.


27 Sep 2011     

United States

After living in Europe for so long - I ´ve learned that Americans are very embarrassed about bodily functions - that ´s why they never ask to go to the toilet - but the bathroom, where the toilet is situated.
This doesn ´t seem to be a problem for Europeans at all.

Or as Liz write - the restrooms - which are public facilities.
we also use lavatory - but European ask to go to the toilet or loo.

Weird because everyone has got to go!!LOL

27 Sep 2011     

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