Toilet talk: English vocabulary about (using) the bathroom

Posted on 21. Oct, 2014 by in English Vocabulary

Bathroom sign.

Today’s post is all about words and expressions that you aren’t likely to learn in a class; today we are going to talk about going to the bathroom! The vocabulary introduced today are words and expressions you will definitely hear native speakers use, and these are also words and expressions you may need to use sometime too.  So let’s get down to it, today is all about toilet talk!

Here are some common expressions that English-speakers use to ask where the toilet is located.

“Where is the bathroom?”
“Can you tell me where the restroom is?
“Where is the lavatory?”
“Which way is the washroom?”
“I need to use the toilet, where can I find it?
“Where is the loo?” (British English)
“Can you point me to the WC?” (British English)

In English the bathroom can also be called: “the men’s room” (for men), “the women’s room” (for women), and sometimes people also say “the little boy’s room” (for men) and “the little girls’ room” (for women). For example:

“Can you tell me where the little girl’s room is?”

All of the above expressions are neutral in nature (not too formal or informal) and appropriate to use in public at anytime to ask where the bathroom is located.

Image "toilet" by dirtyboxface on

Image “toilet” by dirtyboxface on

The toilet, which is found in the bathroom, also has many names in English.  Here is a list of some of these names. How these words are used is in (parentheses).

toilet (neutral)
commode (formal)
potty (childish)
the pot (informal)
the throne (informal)
the chamber pot (old fashion)

Now, it is time to look at some vocabulary to talk about what happens in the bathroom, on the toilet. Below are two lists of words for our two bodily functions (pee and poop). I’ve listed these words generally in order from the most polite/formal words (at the top) to the least polite/informal words (at the bottom). I have indicated next to each word whether it is a noun or verb, its formality, or other important information. How the word is used is important information to know, so please take note. There are some examples for how these words can be used below.

urine (n) / to urinate (v) – (formal)
number 1 (n) -(neutral/polite)
tinkle (n) – (polite/old fashion)
(to) pee (n & v) – (neutral, most common term)
pee-pee (n) – (childish)
wee-wee (n) – (childish)
(to) piss (n & v) – (informal)
(to) wizz (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a leak (v phrase) –  (very informal)

“I have to pee, where is the bathroom?”
“I’m going to take a leak, I’ll be right back.”
“My son peed on himself and I need to change his clothes.”
Mom: “Do you have to go number 1 or number 2?” Child: “Number 1.
“Someone pissed all over the sidewalk. Gross!”
“I went pee-pee in the potty.”
“The nurse checked to see if there was urine in the bed.”
“Do you have to tinkle?”

to defecate (v) – (formal)
feces (n) – (formal)
stool (n) – (formal)
to have a bowel movement (v phrase) –  (formal)
bowel movement or BM (n) – (neutral)
number 2 (n) – (neutral/polite)
poop (n) – (neutral, most common)
poo (n) – (neutral/childish)
poo-poo (n) – (childish)
poopy (n & adj) – (childish)
doo-doo (n) – (childish)

(to) sh*t (n & v) – (very informal)
to take a dump – (v phrase) – (very informal)

“The old man defecated in his bed.”
“How often do you have a bowel movement?”
“I need to change my daughter’s poopy diaper.”
“Where can I take a dump around here?”
“I haven’t had a BM in 2 days.”
“I saw some feces in the bushes at the park.”
“You will have to provide a stool sample for testing.”

Learning this array of vocabulary for talking about bodily functions is important for a few reasons:
1) You may hear other people (especially native speakers) use these words and so it is good to know what they mean;
2) You want to use the right type of word for the right type of situation, and to do that you have to know a variety of ways to talk about your bodily functions; and
3) This is vocabulary building! There is more than one way to say almost everything and now you have many ways you can talk about a subject that is often hard to discuss.

American National Parks Wrap-Up

Posted on 20. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, English Grammar, English Vocabulary, Travel

Over the past few months, we’ve been exploring some of America’s most famous national parks here on the English blog. I hope you’ve had fun reading the posts and watching the videos, because I’ve sure had a good time making them. Visiting some of the national parks should be high atop anyone’s list if traveling to the United States, and I hope that our readers will get the chance to take a trip similar to the one that I took last year to explore them. In case you missed any of the posts, here is a wrap-up with links to all posts and videos:

America the Beautiful

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The song “America the Beautiful” is a very important and historical song in the United States, and many would like to see it become the national anthem. The annual pass for the national parks in the USA is named after this song, and rightfully so – the national parks truly are beautiful.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Get out of LA and visit Joshua Tree national park.

If you plan to visit Los Angeles, then it’s an easy 2-hour drive to the amazing Joshua Tree national park. There’s a lot to do here and it’s a nice escape from the big city, so stay a few nights and camp out.

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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon NP

The amazing Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is perhaps one of the most famous places in all of the US, and for good reason. There are many viewpoints and a variety of hiking trails here, including the very challenging rim-to-rim trail.

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Zion NP

What a view!

This national park located in southwestern Utah was probably our favorite of the many that we visited last summer. Camping out here, hiking, and taking in the views for a few days was an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend.

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Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon NP

It looks like a painting, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to spend at Bryce Canyon on our way across Utah. We still had a fantastic day taking in some of the views and walking a short trail, but we definitely want to go back sometime. If you get the chance, stay here for a few days and enjoy more of this spectacular scenery.

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Canyonlands NP

Looking out on Canyonlands NP.

If you love visiting national parks, then Moab, Utah should be high on your list of places to go. Here, you can visit two national parks – Canyonlands and Arches. There are three sections of Canyonlands, and two of them are very remote and difficult to access. More adventurous travelers can give it a go, while everyone can visit the Island in the Sky section.

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Arhces NP

Some of the many arches.

Named after its 2,000+ natural stone arches, this park is an amazing place to explore. There are plenty of hiking trails and lots of great viewpoints, and there are also nice spots to rest and have a picnic. We had some bad weather that cut our visit a bit short, but we’d love to go back some day.

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Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountain NP

Scenic views at the Rockies.

You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world when you visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, as it has elevations ranging from 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) to 14,000 feet (4,200 meters). This park is huge, so take a few days to explore all that is has to offer.

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Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains NP

The Great Smoky Mountains of TN and NC.

This is the most visited national park in the entire country, and it’s so big that it’s actually in two states – Tennessee and North Carolina. Combine a visit here with a drive on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, or visit it while you hike the Appalachian Trail.

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There are so many more amazing national parks in the United States that I hope to visit some day, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. Make sure you include at least one or two national parks on your trip to the US. Many people simply visit the big cities, but they miss out on the natural beauty of the country. Speaking of cities, we’re going to start a new series here called “Great American Cities,” so make sure you subscribe to the blog for future posts. We’ll visit Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and of course my hometown of Detroit in addition to plenty of other cities from all corners of the country.


English idioms, words, and phrases about reading and books.

Posted on 16. Oct, 2014 by in English Vocabulary

Woman reading a book, a bookworm.

Image “Bookworm” by Matt E on

There are so many important aspects to learning a second language; listening/comprehension, speaking, writing, and reading. If you are reading this blog regularly (and you should!) then you are already doing a good job of prioritizing reading English to help improve your overall language skills.

Today to recognize the importance of reading as part of language building, I have a post filled with English idioms, words, and phrases about reading and books. I have defined this new vocabulary below and included a practice exercise as well. I challenge you to use three of the words, phrases, or idioms here in the next week.

bookworm  – a person who loves to read and is devoted to reading
book smart – to be very smart or successful in scholastic way (from knowledge in books), but not very smart or successful in real world interactions
an open book – to have very evident and clear emotions and thoughts
to hit the books – to study hard
to read the fine print – to read carefully; to know all the information that is contained in a large document, such as a contact
to read between the lines – to try to understand something that is not expressed openly or explicitly; a synonym to this phrase is the verb ‘to infer’
 “Read my lips!” – This phrase means ‘listen very carefully.’ It is used to emphasize the importance of what a person is saying. This phrase was famously used by the George H. Bush when he was running for President of the United States in 1988. At that time he said, “Read my lips, no new taxes!”
to read someone the riot act – to give someone a strong scolding or to talk to someone severely; to yell at someone
spell bound – to hold someone’s attention completely; a synonym for this phrase is ‘fascinated’
“that’s one for the books” – This phrase is used to say that something is ‘amazing,’ ‘wonderful’ or ‘impressive.’
“you can’t judge a book by its cover” – This idioms is used to say, ‘you should not judge people by their appearance alone.’ This idiom also is used to remind people that the outside of something is not always the same as the inside.

Now let’s practice, fill in the sentences below with one of the idioms, words, or phrases defined above.  Also don’t’ forget to select which three you are going to use in conversation this week!

1.    I always have my lawyer read over my work contracts. I pay him to ________________ for me.
2.    Jane is very shy, she dresses conservatively, and she keeps to herself most of the time at school, but I saw her out at a club this past weekend and she was really partying. It just goes to show, ______________________.
3.    James has been a ____________________ since he was a young boy. He started reading at age 5 and has never been without a book since.
4.    ___________________, when I say you have to home by 10:00pm, I mean it! If you can’t follow the rules, you can’t go out with your friends anymore.
5.    It is time to ______________________ and get ready for our English final on Friday.
6.    I know Jill so well she is like _________________ to me; I know when she is happy, sad, or mad without her saying a word.

1. read the fine print; 2. you can’t judge a book by its cover; 3.bookworm; 4. Read my lips; 5. hit the books; 6. an open book