Duolingo has been showing sentences with "die Toiletten" in the plural such as

Wissen Sie wo die Toiletten sind?

Wo kann man die Toiletten finden?

I have also seen other examples with the plural


But it seems the more common way to refer to public restrooms/bathrooms is "die Toilette" in the singular. I know in French toilette is almost always used in the plural when someone asks for directions to the restroom/bathroom (unless referring specifically to one piece of the toilet thing). What's the difference in German then, when people say they are looking for die Toilette and die Toiletten? Are they used interchangeably?

4 Answers 4


I normally use the plural when talking about where to find the Toiletten in a space like a restaurant, because there are normally at least two, one for each sex, and in most cases many more.

On the other hand, one person normally uses only one, so I would say "Er ist zur Toilette gegangen" when refering to a person. Also, in a private house or apartment, I would ask for the toilet in singular because there normally is only one (for guests).

I can totally see singular being used instead of plural in everyday language though, because it just doesn't really matter.

  • seconding the "doesn't really matter" for the singular one - I would find it only very slightly strange to be asked for a singular "Toilette" in a restaurant or such - easily explained away as "maybe a regional thing". What would give someone away as not a native speaker would be asking for plural "Toiletten" in a residence, where one would expect only one.
    – Syndic
    Commented Jul 5 at 6:57
  • Also, when in a bigger space, like a museum or train station, where there are probably not only multiple toilets but multiple lavatories, asking in the plural indicates that anyone will do fine (usually nearest is implied but you don't really care). Commented Jul 5 at 9:33
  • 1
    for no obvious reason, in contrast, the synonym "WC" appears to be used in singular only. I would never ask, and have never heard it being asked, "Wo sind die WCs?". It is always "Wo ist das WC?"
    – dlatikay
    Commented Jul 5 at 13:15

Well, if you mean the "institution", you can obviously use singular and plural, they are mostly interchangeable and I can't really see a difference. In a private home, the toilet is, however, not considered an "institution" and you'll be using the singular.

If you are a plumber and looking for a specific bowl to repair, you'll be using the singular.


There is a tiny bit of difference, and it would depend on the situation.

If you ask because you need to use a toilet yourself you will ask for "the toilet". If you are in a restaurant, with ladies's toilets on the left and gentlemen's toilets to the right, you would ask for "the toilet", and you would get directed to an appropriate one.

If you ask for another person who is too shy to ask while in the restaurant, you'd ask for "the toilets", and would be told "ladies to the left, gentlemen to the right" because asking for "the toilets" indicates you are not interested in one for yourself.

If one of the restaurant's toilets is broken and you called a plumber, and he arrives wearing an overall and a toolbox, he'll ask for "the toilet" and you would assume he means the broken one. If a maintenance man arrives to check that all toilets are working well they will ask "where are all the toilets". "Wo sind alle Toiletten" sounds unusual, I'd probably ask "Wo sind die Toiletten, und ich brauche alle".

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    Nice hypothesis concerning asking for yourself vs. someone else - but does anyone actually use the words like that? Commented Jul 6 at 20:31

While the other answers are Not wrong, logically speaking, I feel like the most important aspect was not mentioned. You can ask in generell 'where are the toiletts' plural because most of the time, there will be multiple. You can only say 'I will use the toilette/ I used the toilette' singular because well you're only going to use one of them, not two or three. That's why asking where the toilette in singular is fine but less common - picturing the one toilette you're going to use.

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