6

From the solved WOMBATS:

Which of the following is/are IMPOSSIBLE?

0 ☐ Transfiguring inanimate objects into animate objects

5Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects

0 ☐ Vanishing inanimate objects

2 ☐ Vanishing animate objects

-5 ☐ All of the above

0 ☐ None of the above

This implies that animate objects cannot be transfigured into inanimate objects.

But in Chamber of Secrets we find:

Professor McGonagall’s classes were always hard work, but today was especially difficult. Everything Harry had learned last year seemed to have leaked out of his head during the summer. He was supposed to be turning a beetle into a button, but all he managed to do was give his beetle a lot of exercise as it scuttled over the desktop avoiding his wand.

A seeming contradiction.

Which is correct?

  • Don't they also turn mice into teacups, or is that in the films? – F1Krazy Apr 23 '18 at 12:48
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    @F1Krazy That's the films, no? – TheAsh Apr 23 '18 at 12:52
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    3 links therowlinglibrary.com/2018/04/06/how-i-solved-the-wombat and I found the questions here hp-lexicon.org/source/other-canon/jkr/jkr-w2 (replace the 2 with the number your looking for) and I find the answers, thanks to @ibid, here: pastebin.com/raw/wx27jBS2 – TheAsh Apr 23 '18 at 13:02
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    Take a look at this answer. Also, @F1Krazy : I recall Petunia stating that Lily used to do the opposite actually, turning teacups into rodents, though the veracity is debatable since you can't do magic outside of school (and it's Petunia talking). – Jenayah Apr 23 '18 at 13:04
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    @mikeazo - From someone back in the day taking the tests multiple times and observing how minor differences in answer choices affected ones grade. – ibid Apr 23 '18 at 13:38
14

Yes, you can.

There are many examples throughout the series of successfully Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects, so it’s directly shown to be possible - and it’s taught in Transfiguration class beginning in first-year, so it’s not even that difficult.

Which answer in the W.O.M.B.A.T.s should be thought right, then?

It seems answerable by canon information which should be the correct answer to this question. There are examples directly shown in canon for each of these answers choices.

Transfiguring inanimate objects into animate objects is possible.

Before Harry’s first Transfiguration class, Professor McGonagall transfigured her desk into a pig.

“Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts,’ she said. ‘Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.’

Then she changed her desk into a pig and back again.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)

Cedric Diggory also Transfigured a rock into a dog.

Transfiguring animate objects into inanimate objects is possible.

Several times in Transfiguration, the students have to turn animals into inanimate objects, starting in first year. One such spell is part of their first-year practical exam.

“Professor McGonagall watched them turn a mouse into a snuff-box – points were given for how pretty the snuff-box was, but taken away if it had whiskers.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)

There are several more examples, like turning beetles to buttons and hedgehogs to pincushions.

Vanishing inanimate objects is possible.

Bill Weasley vanishes scrolls successfully.

“Bill took out his wand, muttered, ‘Evanesco!’ and the scrolls vanished.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)

There are other examples of inanimate objects being vanished, like Snape vanishing Harry’s potions.

Vanishing animate objects is possible.

For their O.W.L.s, the fifth-year students begin learning Vanishing Spells, and first practice on snails.

“By the end of a double period neither he nor Ron had managed to vanish the snails on which they were practising, though Ron said hopefully he thought his looked a bit paler. Hermione, on the other hand, successfully vanished her snail on the third attempt, earning her a ten-point bonus for Gryffindor from Professor McGonagall.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)

Later, they move on to vanishing mice, and Hermione gets good enough where she can vanish kittens.

Therefore, the correct answer should be “None of the above”.

Every example given in the question is shown to be possible to be performed successfully in the books, therefore the only correct answer choice given that accords with what’s shown to be possible is “none of the above”. Why the W.O.M.B.A.T. says it’s a different answer is unclear. It’s possible it was programmed wrong, or the “solved” test made a mistake. However, the answer they say is correct directly goes against canon evidence.

Extra note: “animate objects” is a term indicating something is alive.

The term “animate object” has a known meaning - it refers to something that’s alive and has its own mind, as opposed to an inanimate object.

11. Linguistics. belonging to a syntactic category or having a semantic feature that is characteristic of words denoting beings regarded as having perception and volition (opposed to inanimate ).
- Animate (Dictionary.com)

It’s listed on several dictionaries as being a grammatical term to distinguish living from nonliving. An example given on one is the word car is inanimate; the word dog is animate. Therefore, it seems very likely that it’s used this way on the test, rather than being used to indicate charmed objects.

11

There are several instances in direct canon of live things being turned into inanimate objects, so looks like the WOMBATs are wrong.

Mice into snuffboxes:

Professor McGonagall watched them turn a mouse into a snuff box.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone, chapter 16: "Through the Trapdoor"

Rabbits into slippers:

Harry looked down at the pair of white rabbits he was supposed to be turning into slippers. What had he learned so far this year? He couldn’t seem to think of anything that would be useful in an exam.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, chapter 16: "The Chamber of Secrets"

Hedgehogs into pincushions:

"We don’t take O.W.Ls ’til fifth year!" said Dean Thomas indignantly.
"Maybe not, Thomas, but believe me, you need all the preparation you can get! Miss Granger remains the only person in this class who has managed to turn a hedgehog into a satisfactory pincushion. I might remind you that your pincushion, Thomas, still curls up in fright if anyone approaches it with a pin!"
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 15: "Beauxbatons and Durmstrang"

Owls into opera glasses:

“Yes,” said Hermione irritably, turning a page of Intermediate Transfiguration and glaring at a series of diagrams showing an owl turning into a pair of opera glasses. “Yes, I’m starting to think he has. But unfortunately, he made Harry and me promise.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 30: "Grawp"

There are also several other instances in the movies, such as turning a bird into a goblet.

  • 3
    Live things into inanimate objects. We have never seen transfiguration of animate OBJECT to inanimate object. – jo1storm Apr 23 '18 at 13:16
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    @jo1storm - So you're saying the wombat's answer is equivalent to "transfiguration cannot be used to remove an object's enchantment"? – ibid Apr 23 '18 at 13:41
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    yes, I guess so. I think that spells needed to make animated object are charms, not transfiguration. But I don't have my books here and don't remember that written anywhere, that's why I didn't make my own answer but wrote a reply instead. – jo1storm Apr 23 '18 at 14:19
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    @jo1storm I have to disagree. Living things are indeed objects—they are animate objects. If they are not, what would you consider an animate object? To me it means the same thing as "living thing". Thing is just another word for object, after all. – ell Apr 23 '18 at 18:38
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    The Java programmer in me is enraged at the notion that everything isn't an object. – Adonalsium Apr 23 '18 at 19:53
6

The W.O.M.B.A.T. answers are made up

As shown by the details in this answer, JKR never officially released the answers to the test, so anything that appears as "answers" was made up by somebody else. This means that there are likely errors (as you have spotted) as they do not necessarily come from anyone with extensive HP knowledge (And the HP wikia is shaky at best).

Note the details added by the top answer from Slytherincess on that question:

I have not been able to locate a list of the W.O.M.B.A.T. questions and answers from an official source. Reading J.K. Rowling's comments on the W.O.M.B.A.T.s, I'm erring on the side that the answers were never formally released. This isn't to say they can't be deduced from the questions, such as the Lexicon attempted, or, theoretically, gleaned from a test-taker who earned a perfect score.

So, if an official list of the W.O.M.B.A.T. answers exists, I cannot find it (and my Google-Fu is pretty decent). I tend to think the W.O.M.B.A.T. questions at the Lexicon are probably correct. We know that in 2007 J.K. Rowling was willing to consider releasing the W.O.M.B.A.T. answers; however, it does not appear she actually did so in an official capacity.

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    A few months after book seven came out she released all three tests with instant grading. A fan by the name of Roonwit took figured out the scoring system by finding answer sets where changing one question would change the grade. – ibid Apr 23 '18 at 17:46
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    It's funny you reference Slytherincess's answer, because for four years that was saying the answers were officially released until I bothered her recently to change it. – ibid Apr 23 '18 at 17:49
6

It depends on what is categorized as an "Animate Object" in the HP Universe

Living things, despite being animate, can most assuredly be transfigured into inanimate objects, as has been done explicitly in the series:

“Professor McGonagall watched them turn a mouse into a snuff-box – points were given for how pretty the snuff-box was, but taken away if it had whiskers.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16: Through the Trapdoor

Therefore, it can reasonably be concluded that there is some sort of difference between a Living Thing (can be transfigured) and an Animate Object (can't be transfigured).

So, what exactly is an "Animate Object"? This is never clearly defined, but there are two potential definitions:

  1. Living Things are animate objects; however, this seems doubtful since living things can be transfigured into inanimate objects (whether this kills the living thing is never clarified, either...). Thus, it seems that animals are different from objects entirely, leading to the next definition...
  2. Objects that have been Animated by Magic are animate objects. This one seems more correct, as there has never really been a case where animated objects, like the Paintings, have been transfigured, and it would be likely that, over the years, at least one student would have attempted this.

Since living things have been transfigured into inanimate objects directly in the text, but there are no demonstrations of or even references-to animated objects being transfigured into inanimate objects, it is likely that the W.O.M.B.A.T. is referring to the latter and not the former.

  • 2
    I'm accepting this answer until I reread the books and notice an animate object being transformed. – TheAsh Apr 23 '18 at 20:34
  • @TheAsh I looked up “animate objects”, it seems like the term generally refers to living things like animals and people. – Bellatrix Apr 23 '18 at 21:53
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    @Bellatrix You convinced me. – TheAsh Apr 24 '18 at 6:29
  • @TheAsh Thanks a lot! :) – Bellatrix Apr 25 '18 at 3:27

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