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I work in real estate, and sometimes I have to translate respective inscriptions from my native Russian into English. I get stuck in some cases where not only linguistic, but cultural differences have an impact. I’d appreciate it if you would help me to sort out one of these issues.

When describing a property, we usually mention about bathrooms. But our conception of bathrooms often differs from yours. :-) For example, we have no need for specifying “2 bathrooms” or “5 bathrooms”, because most of our properties have only one bathroom. But there is another characteristic that Russian property buyers consider important: whether the toilet is separated from bathroom or combined with it. I fail to formulate it correctly in English.

Here are the standard terms that we use:

  1. Совмещённый санузел (sovmeshchonny sanuzel), literally “combined sanitation unit”, means: “The property has one room containing all hygienic facilities, including bathtub, toilet, basin and so on.”

  2. Раздельный санузел (razdelny sanuzel), literally “separated sanitation unit”, means: “The property has two separate rooms, one with a toilet bowl, and another with a bathtub.”

Please help me to understand how to convey these terms in British English reasonably. I apologize if my inquiry seems foolish or is phrased awkwardly.

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As I mentioned in a comment below, "bathtub" sounds quaint in British English. The thing you fill with water and lie in is a "bath". –  Colin Fine Nov 18 '11 at 12:17
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For clarification, who is the description for? UK people looking for places in Russia (so explaining the Russian culture/architecture as simply as possible to British English speakers? And in your second case, are the two rooms connected (the toilet having a bit of extra privacy but through a second door -in- the main bathroom, or are they generally distinct rooms altogether, independently placed in the house? –  Mitch Nov 18 '11 at 15:23
    
@Mitch, you are right, it is for UK people (and maybe other English-speaking Europeans) looking for property in Moscow. So it is important to make them acquainted with Russian peculiarities. As regards your question about the “razdelny sanuzel”, it is the arrangement when there are two distinct rooms, having no doors from one to another. But these rooms are usually adjacent and both open on the main hall (or corridor). –  user14972 Nov 18 '11 at 19:44
    
@Mitch, a little more for clarification: The toilet doesn’t have a sink in it, only a toilet bowl. The bathroom usually has a bath and a sink, seldom it has a shower instead of a bath. In addition, both rooms are usually terribly small. :-) The whole system of these “two kinds of bathrooms” matters for small-sized flats in apartment buildings that were built in the Soviet years. New developments in Moscow are more conforming to civilized world. :-) –  user14972 Nov 18 '11 at 19:46
    
@Colin, thank you for correction. Though I have to deal with translations, my English is very far from perfect. –  user14972 Nov 18 '11 at 19:50

9 Answers 9

According to Wikipedia’s entries for Public toilet and Bathroom, the British term for a room containing a bath is a bathroom and the term for a room containing a toilet is a toilet.

If these are accurate, it would make sense to translate:

sovmeshchonny sanuzel ➡ combined bathroom and toilet

razdelny sanuzel ➡ separate bathroom and toilet

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I am afraid it is not fully accurate. On British real estate websites, brochures and listings nearly always the word “bathroom” stands for a room containing all plumbing fixtures together. Very seldom it denotes a bathroom without toilet, but there’s no special wording for distinguishing the two cases; one has to guess if the second case occurs. –  user14972 Nov 17 '11 at 23:32
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I agree with this answer (British person now living in Australia). I think most of the time "bathroom" in British English means room with toilet and bath etc, but if you say "separate bathroom and toilet" it is clear you mean the toilet is in a different room to everything else. –  Timothy Jones Nov 18 '11 at 0:27
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In England real estate agents speak with forked tongue. The poster is correct, however, an English real estate agent would describe a separate toilet and bathroom (incorrectly) as two bathrooms to make the property appear better than it is. –  James Anderson Nov 18 '11 at 1:59
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@James Anderson: No matter how devious you think they are, I think no British estate agent would describe a house as having two bathrooms if it didn't in fact have a bath in each. It would be counterproductive, since prospective purchasers would remonstrate as soon as they saw the truth, and be unlikely to consider that or any other properties on the agent's books. –  FumbleFingers Nov 20 '11 at 23:23
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@FumbleFingers: not entirely - a bathroom doesn't have to have a bath in it. It could, for example, contain a shower, washbasin and toilet. I've seen such a room described as a both a bathroom and shower room. (Perhaps we need a question about the language used by estate agents... :-) ) –  Steve Melnikoff Nov 28 '11 at 12:14

In American English, a room with a toilet and sink but no shower/bathtub could be called a

  • powder room, or
  • 1/2 bathroom

In British English, I have seen it described as a WC (water closet). This is also the case on trains, as the WC is a toilet and sink, without washing facilities.

A room with a shower/bathtub is a bathroom as it is literally a bathing room. I've seen that description “on the Continent” and the UK.

North American English of the more recent variety will refer to the combined toilet, sink, shower/bath as a bathroom. But my older, poorer, rural relatives never used the phrase bathroom unless they were referring to washing. Also, in some older buildings in U.S. cities, in New York for example, there are still apartments that have one room with a toilet and sink only, and an adjacent, but completely separate walled room with only a tub.

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Across Europe, the most cosmopolitan term for a toilet is "WC" (Water Closet). This would work fine for UK English, but is foreign to Americans.

In North American real estate jargon we say "full bathroom" for a bathroom with all facilities, and "half-bathroom" for a toilet and sink only. (North American homes are frequently listed as having "2-1/2 baths".)

Since there is no proper equivalent to the common Eastern European apartment layout, you need the separate words to explain this difference. The shortened "WC" could be useful in print. I would suggest:

  • Combined bath & WC (comb. B/WC)
  • Separate bath & WC (sep. B/WC)
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In Australian English the phrase "separate shower and toilet" would typically be used to describe the situation where the bath/shower and toilet are in different rooms.

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I think this would work in North America too, but it's not seen very often (maybe because such washrooms seem very rare around here). –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 17 '11 at 21:38
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@Frustrated, interesting that it's rare in Nth America, who knows how or why these things catch on. Must've been a bit of a trend here in Aus at some time, because it's quite common. Have also seen '1/2 bath' as mentioned by Mitch. –  Snubian Nov 17 '11 at 21:44
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"1/2 bath" I've seen two, but usually in real estate listings as "home has 2 1/2 baths. Sometimes a room with just a toilet is called a "powder room". –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 17 '11 at 21:51
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“Separate shower and toilet” works in British English too. @FrustratedWithForms: I’ve often heard powder room as a euphemism in conversation, but never seen it in real-estate or similar descriptions. –  PLL Nov 17 '11 at 22:02
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Why the downvote? Here in the UK, although it would be unusual, I believe "bathroom, separate toilet" would be correctly understood. –  z7sg Ѫ Nov 17 '11 at 22:04

In AmE, the appropriate distinction in real estate speak is:

  • 'bathroom' or 'full bathroom' - has all plumbing fixtures (toilet, sink, bathtub/shower).

  • '1/2 bath' - just a toilet and sink.

(which correspond it seems directly to your two Russian alternatives).

So you might hear the counterintuitive:

Two full and two half baths.

which means there are two full bathrooms and two (separate!) rooms with just a toilet and sink. Meaning that 4 can urinate (privately) at the same time but only 2 can shower at the same time.

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Except that the OP has a third case, a room which has only the bathing fixtures, not the toilet. –  MετάEd Nov 17 '11 at 21:51
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Also OP asked for British English. –  MετάEd Nov 17 '11 at 21:54
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A half-bathroom is a room with a toilet and sink but not other plumbing, and it is not associated with (e.g. next to) those fuller facilities. I think what the OP is describing is the case where you have a full bathroom but the part containing the toilet is separated by a wall from the rest. I've sometimes seen this in hotel rooms, and sometimes the separation is a stall wall and not a full wall. –  Monica Cellio Nov 17 '11 at 22:26
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This is all American terminology, if you told a Brit that a property had 1 1/2 bathrooms they would be very puzzled. In British English a bathroom should have a bath in it. A room with a toilet and a wash basin is a toilet. –  Ben Robinson Nov 17 '11 at 22:49
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@Mitch, I (American) have never been to Russia but I lived in Europe for 6 years and have been all over Western and Central Europe. I am fairly sure that the situation the OP describes is one room with a bath or shower and a sink, and a second room with a toilet and no sink or other plumbing. That arrangement is common in the parts of Europe I've visited. This is even more removed from the American half-bath than your post suggests. –  phoog Nov 18 '11 at 0:44

I think in US English, bathroom has broader reach than in British English. I watched a movie the other day (Bad Lieutenant, I think) where one guy said to another in the urinal of a bar "Get the fuck outta the bathroom". Me, I just thought "WTF is he talking about?".

Here in the UK my house is pretty standard in that it has a bathroom (with bath, toilet, and washbasin) on the first floor. But unusually, it has a shower in the same room as a downstairs toilet / washbasin.

If it weren't for the shower, most Brits would unhesitatingly call that downstairs one a cloakroom (particularly if speaking to someone they don't know well). Over the years I've lived here it's been discussed many times, but nothing better than "shower room", "toilet" or "downstairs loo" has ever come of these discussions.

I don't think British houses built less than 50 years ago woud normally have a room with just a toilet. There's usually at least a washbasin as well, and as I've said, that's called a cloakroom if downstairs. If there are multiple toilets upstairs, any others apart from the one in the main bathroom will be in en-suites leading off bedrooms. A dedicated communal-access toilet upstairs, even with a washbasin, would be considered primitive by most people.

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A cloakroom? Most? I can believe that some Brits would use cloakroom as a euphemism for a "half-bathroom" / downstairs loo, but it wouldn't have occurred to me (a cloakroom is where I would leave my coat at the theatre or a club). Do you have any corpus or other evidence that I'm just unusual? –  Peter Taylor Nov 18 '11 at 17:35
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I've done quite a bit of "house-hunting" in the last decade or two (for myself, friends, and family), from Tyneside to the south coast. I don't recall estate agents ever writing anything except cloakroom. In common parlance it seems to me most people copy the estate agents in "formal" contexts, but informally opt for either toilet or loo (and often consider the one they don't use to be "common"). You can confirm the estate agents' usage by looking at a few online, but I don't know how to back up what I say about informal speech. –  FumbleFingers Nov 18 '11 at 18:19
    
I misread your last sentence initially, and thought that "primitive" was a term. Which led me to think of a "privy" and then an "out house". I am now giggling at the thought of either term appearing in a real-estate advertisement in Great Britain or North America... –  Feral Oink Nov 20 '11 at 17:14
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Now I'm contemplating the phrase, "dedicated communal-access toilet". And giggling more. I must stop re-reading this entire entry, questions and answers, as it is provoking a profound lack of maturity. Mine, that is. Far too many giggles... –  Feral Oink Nov 20 '11 at 17:23
    
@Feral I rented a large pre-war bungalow on the coast in England recently that was advertised as having both a bathroom and an out house, when we got there it did indeed have both an internal room with bath/toilet/basin and a wooden walled 'building' between the garage and the house with just a toilet (and a wide selection of spiders) in it. –  GAThrawn Nov 23 '11 at 17:54

I've not been looking for property recently, but as a Brit I'd expect the following meanings from various terms:

  • Shower room - A smallish room normally containing a toilet, a sink and a shower
  • Bathroom - A larger room, containing a toilet, a sink, a bath and typically some form of shower as well (be it over the bath or a separate cubicle). If one or more rooms in a house has an en-suite (see below), then this may be described as a "family bathroom" by estate agents.
  • En-suite - A bathroom that is only accessible from a bedroom (Typically advertised as a "bedroom with en-suite"). Contains a toilet and sink, and usually a shower. Various examples of usage of the term can be seen in this advert.
  • Wet room - This is a type of bath/shower room that contains a shower that does not have a separate cubicle (ie. the water is sprayed directly onto the floor and it is drained from there). See wikipedia.
  • Cloakroom/WC (an abbreviation of "water-closet") - This is just a toilet and a sink, normally as an addition to other toilets within the property. I think you'd tend to use "cloakroom" for a room on the ground-floor of a house, such as in this instance, and "WC" for rooms on other floors. I've also seen (such as in this ad) the variant "Guest WC".

Some advertisements, such as this one, describe a bath or shower room as having a "separate WC", meaning that the bathroom does not have a toilet in the room itself, but in a (typically adjacent) room, which I believe is what you describe as Раздельный санузел.

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In the last paragraph you have it backwards. Separate rooms are Раздельный санузел. –  MετάEd Nov 19 '11 at 20:59
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Apologies; corrected. –  Edd Nov 20 '11 at 18:32
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+1 for links to Rightmove, which is probably the most appropriate corpus for this question. –  Steve Melnikoff Nov 28 '11 at 12:19
    
@Edd For no reason I can discern, what you’re calling an en suite is in America called a master bedroom: one with an attached bathroom reachable only from that bedroom. –  tchrist Mar 26 '12 at 16:09
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@tchrist: In the UK, the master bedroom is simply the largest. An en-suite bathroom needs a big house! –  Andrew Leach Mar 26 '12 at 16:36

I am British, so I will give you answers based on how these are normally described in the UK.

As for term number one, “combined sanitation unit”: the word "bathroom" is enough.

As for term number two, “separated sanitation unit”: it is normal to say "separate bathroom and toilet".

Some related points to make. As you wrote:

For example, we have no need for specifying “2 bathrooms” or “5 bathrooms”, because most of our properties have only one bathroom.

This is also the case in the UK.

If you are going to talk to British people or other non-American English speakers, it will be best not to use the following words, which you used in your question:

real estate, bathtub, basin, toilet bowl.

These are all American terms that are not normally used. For British people, it is enough to say: property for "real estate"; bath for "bathtub"; sink for "basin" and toilet for "toilet bowl".

With the possible exception of Canada (I don't know if Canadian English uses these terms, as well), British people at least do not normally use these terms. Many would not even know some of them. Unless they are personally familiar with American English, maybe by having lived in the USA, or having spent a lot of time with Americans.

Therefore, it is best not to use these terms, because it is not likely that they will all be understood. I had not heard of "real estate" and "basin". I had to research the meanings on the internet.

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When in doubt, make it explicit:

  • One bathroom with shower (or bath tub) only
  • One bathroom with toilet only (or half-bath or powder room in American English)
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In British English "bath tub" is a phrase out of children's books. The thing you fill with water is a "bath". –  Colin Fine Nov 18 '11 at 12:15
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"bathroom with toilet only" is confusing in places where bathroom necessarily implies a room where it's possible to bath, whatever other fixtures the room may have. –  ShreevatsaR Nov 18 '11 at 12:35

protected by RegDwigнt May 18 '12 at 23:13

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