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.

  • 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, 2011 at 12:17
  • 1
    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, 2011 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, 2011 at 19:44
  • 2
    I'm very surprised by your need of clarification on the subject, at least by British people, as this kind of separated toilet and bathroom is not so very rare in the UK. I've been spending time in Britain ever since the early 1970s, mostly as a paying guest in people's houses but also renting my own places, and the fact of having a cubicle with the toilet (no sink) and an adjacent bathroom was the norm. Nor has this feature disappeared completely: five years ago I was in Worthing (Sussex) and that was the only sanitary solution available. (to be cont.)
    – Paola
    May 18, 2012 at 23:20
  • 1
    Having to cross the landing to go from one place to the other was a bit embarrassing. On the other hand, last year I stayed in a large traditional house in Edinburgh, and a toilet closet had been created just under the staircase. To top it up, you could be confronted with the same structure in France too: in Lyon in 1979 I was with a friend whose house sported a split "bathroom" (no window in either part) separated by the corridor which connected the hall and kitchen on one side to the living room and bedroom on the other...
    – Paola
    May 18, 2012 at 23:26

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

  • 4
    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, 2011 at 23:32
  • 12
    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. Nov 18, 2011 at 0:27
  • 1
    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. Nov 18, 2011 at 1:59
  • 5
    @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. Nov 20, 2011 at 23:23
  • 4
    @Steve Melnikoff: Agreed a bathroom doesn't have to contain an actual bath. But in my version of (Southern) British English, it must at least have something enabling "full body ablution". If not a bath, a shower. In America though, it seems all it needs to contain is a urinal - not necessarily even hand-washing facilities. Nov 28, 2011 at 13:24

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.

  • 1
    If the toilet room is very closely adjacent to the tub room, then I'd just go with "one bathroom" and let the exact layout become obvious later, unless you feel that the potential buyers care very much about this. As for "half-bathroom" or "powder room", I'd be wary of using these terms in the absence of a sink, since the toilet really isn't a standalone destination if you can't wash hands afterwards.
    – CCTO
    Jul 3, 2018 at 18:50

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.

  • 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). Nov 17, 2011 at 21:38
  • 1
    @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. Nov 17, 2011 at 21:44
  • 1
    "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". Nov 17, 2011 at 21:51
  • 2
    “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, 2011 at 22:02
  • 3
    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, 2011 at 22:04

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)

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.

  • In the last paragraph you have it backwards. Separate rooms are Раздельный санузел.
    – MetaEd
    Nov 19, 2011 at 20:59
  • 1
    Apologies; corrected.
    – Edd
    Nov 20, 2011 at 18:32
  • 2
    +1 for links to Rightmove, which is probably the most appropriate corpus for this question. Nov 28, 2011 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, 2012 at 16:09
  • 1
    @tchrist: In the UK, the master bedroom is simply the largest. An en-suite bathroom needs a big house!
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 26, 2012 at 16:36

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.

  • 6
    Except that the OP has a third case, a room which has only the bathing fixtures, not the toilet.
    – MetaEd
    Nov 17, 2011 at 21:51
  • 3
    Also OP asked for British English.
    – MetaEd
    Nov 17, 2011 at 21:54
  • 2
    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. Nov 17, 2011 at 22:26
  • 2
    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. Nov 17, 2011 at 22:49
  • 8
    @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, 2011 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.

  • 3
    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? Nov 18, 2011 at 17:35
  • 1
    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. Nov 18, 2011 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... Nov 20, 2011 at 17:14
  • 1
    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... Nov 20, 2011 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, 2011 at 17:54

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.


In the UK Real Estate jargon, they use fractional bathrooms, as described at https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/if-i-take-out-the-tub-does-a-bathroom-still-count-as-a-full-bath/

Each element of a "full bath" (toilet, sink, bath, shower) is counted as one quarter.

So you have a "quarter bath", "half bath", "three-quarter bath", and "full bath".

So a property listed as having "2.5 bath" may theoretically have ten tiny rooms with nothing but a sink in each, or could have one big room with at two or three of every fixture. People tend to be sane, or at least consistent, though, so "2.5 bath" will tend to mean "two full and one toilet + sink".