In Harry Potter, we all know there are long spells and short spells. Pronouncing long spells takes up more time and the wand movement is often more difficult, so how can they be useful in a duel? Short spells like "Stupefy" are easy, fast and rather powerful, "Protego" is too. What's the advantage of knowing and using long spells against a wizard who uses short spells?

Say we have "Petrificus Totalus" which can be helpful, but is long, it is pretty easy to counter-spell "Protego" and then cast "Stupefy", so will a wizard using short spells always win a fight?

  • duelling, of course, depends on timing, but the strength of the spell and the spell's vulnerability against counter-curses is much more important. Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 19:31
  • @RKailashShankar Doesn't "Protego" counter almost all spells? In the OotP Harry often uses it. And the encyclopedia of spells is so large that surely an intelligent wizard could filter out the short ones and find among them powerful and really handy spells. That's what I'd do if I were in Hogwarts. Or, as I know, wizards create their own spells and why not try to create powerful short one-syllable spells? Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 4:04

2 Answers 2


It likely depends on the spells used, and the skill of the opponent.

A wizard using short spells of similar effects to their opponent’s spells would likely have an advantage. However, it’s not the only factor to consider.

Some long spells have devastating effects. For example, Avada Kedavra is a long spell, but if it hits its target, then the opponent is dead and the duel is won.

Likewise, there are other long spells that could win a duel. Expelliarmus can entirely stop an opponent who can’t do wandless spells from casting anything else unless they get back their wand.

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    Also being able to think spells is going to be faster than saying them out loud. Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 20:07
  • @marcellothearcane You mean the way Dumbledore and the members of the Order of Phoenix, and Tom, and the Death Eaters cast them? Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 3:55
  • But Bella, Avada Kedavra is an unforgivable curse. I also think that using short homing spells is very effective. And as much as I know there is a way to counter the deathly spell - using conjuring spells, I read this somewhere. And if I'm not mistaking, one of the conjuring spells is very short, and powerful enough to create an obstacle in the path of the Kedavra spell. Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 3:58
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    @SovereignSun Yes, Avada Kedavra is Unforgivable, but that wouldn’t stop a Death Eater. ;) It can be blocked with a physical barrier, but it’s also a spell that if it hits its target the battle is over. Overall, though it’s never mentioned in the books, it would be logical for using shorter spells to provide an advantage. There may be some long spells worth using anyway, but it seems like using shorter spells would provide the same kind of advantage as using nonverbal spells.
    – Obsidia
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 5:13
  • @SovereignSun Harry and friends learn wordless spells at Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix, I think. It's just a more advanced (and quicker) way of casting spells without shouting them. Snape tells Harry later that if you're duelling you should 'close your mind' too. Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 18:27

I think it really depends on the witch/wizard’s preference and how good they are at the spell.

For example Harry Potter uses Expelliarmus. It’s a good spell but very long. Now some people aren’t good at Expelliarmus. Take Neville before Dumbledore's army for example, he wasn’t too good at spells and therefore he would use Flipendo rather than Expelliarmus to try to beat his opponent.


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