After watching the Harry Potter movies I became confused as to how wands and Magic work.

Some spells require wands, while others do not some spell seem to be spoken and others are unspoken which is very confusing. I was wondering if anyone could explain this to me

  • Are you just asking about why some spells are spoke and others aren't? We already have questions that answer that point, if so. Maybe edit your question to clarify? Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 22:07
  • More skillful wizards can cast spells without having to speak them aloud. It is all about experience and mastery. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 22:07
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    As far as I can tell (based on a guess of what you are asking), this has been answered (to the degree that it can be) in quite a few other questions. If you can clarify it we might be able to point you to one, or answer this if it's actually new.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


My understanding is that most spells have verbal ("levio-sAH") and somatic components ("swish-and-flick") but that all elements of the spell's casting sort of add power to the same pot. So some very basic, simple spells can be performed without one or the other of those because the caster has the rest of the spell so dialed in.

It seems like the words and actions aid in successfully casting spells, but skilled wizards can make it happen without the full recommended set of actions. On Pottermore, Rowlings writes about Native American and African wizards being more skilled in completely wandless magic (the wand being a European invention), so presumably they have just learned to rely more heavily on words, or on the mental process, etc.

The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.

The magic wand originated in Europe. Wands channel magic so as to make its effects both more precise and more powerful, although it is generally held to be a mark of the very greatest witches and wizards that they have also been able to produce wandless magic of a very high quality. As the Native American Animagi and potion-makers demonstrated, wandless magic can attain great complexity, but Charms and Transfiguration are very difficult without one.

and on African wizards:

The wand is a European invention, and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures.

Of course, these are specifically about wand use, rather than verbal vs somatic components specifically, but I think we can probably extrapolate and say that the wand would be a pretty important part of the somatic component for a wizard trained in its use. Presumably a similar thing may follow with the spoken word: maybe they just think it instead and that's enough.

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    Hi, welcome to SFF! Please could you back up this answer with some more sources or quotes? E.g. you mention something written on Pottermore - perhaps you could link to the relevant Pottermore article(s)?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 22:16
  • Thanks Rand al'Thor - I've edited my answer to include that.
    – Lime
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 22:29

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