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"Longbottom, kindly do not reveal that you can’t even perform a simple Switching Spell in front of anyone from Durmstrang!"
Minerva McGonagall to Neville Longbottom[src]

Switching was a sub-branch of Transfiguration and a form of transformation. It was the art of magically exchanging physical features between two targets. Switching targets in this manner could be accomplished with Switching Spells.[1] The only known sub-group of switching was Cross-Species Switches.[3]


Switching spells were taught to second or third year students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; an entry on Switches could be found in either A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch or Intermediate Transfiguration.

Students at Hogwarts should have switches mastered before their fourth year.[1]

Hermione Granger knew quite a bit about Switching Spells already in her first year, and gained some house points for it from McGonagall.[4]

Neville Longbottom wasn't particularly adept at these, managing to switch his own ears onto a cactus during Transfiguration class.

Hermione Granger brought up switching to Harry Potter, while the two were discussing ways to combat dragons.[5]

In a student's fifth year of education, they must sit the Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) examinations. On the Transfiguration O.W.L. a student might answer a written question that asked for the definition of a switching spell.[6]


Switching greatly resembled general transformation, but with two main differences: firstly, the features of the two targets were switched simultaneously; secondly, the change in one of the pair was dependent on a change in the other.

It is hard to gauge the relative difficulty of switches exactly compared to other types of Transfiguration, because the exact year in which they were learned is not known. However, Professor McGonagall was impressed when Hermione knew about switches as a first-year student[4] but was disappointed in Neville for not being able to perform even simple switches by the fourth year.[1] Therefore, students must have started learning switches in second, third or (early) fourth year (most likely third), earlier than almost all the other branches of Transfiguration save transformation.


The only known method of switching was through the application of Switching Spells.[1][3]

Known practitioners


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
  2. 2.0 2.1 As Albus Dumbledore was a former professor of Transfiguration.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 22 (The Unexpected Task)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 9 (The Midnight Duel)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 20 (The First Task)
  6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
Transfiguration (class)
COS Vera Verto demo.gif
Branches of Transfiguration Transformation · Vanishment · Conjuration · Untransfiguration
Notable practitioners Circe · Emeric Switch · Falco Aesalon · Mirabella Plunkett · Thaddeus Thurkell
Professors Albus Dumbledore · Minerva McGonagall
Textbooks A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration · Intermediate Transfiguration · A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration
Transfiguration spells studied at Hogwarts
Colour Change Charm (Colovaria) · Change of hair colour and style (Crinus Muto) · Hardening Charm (Duro) · Mending Charm (Reparo) · Partial Vanishment · Reparifarge · Softening Charm (Spongify) · Switching Spell · Vanishing Spell (Evanesco)
Conjuring Spells Bird-Conjuring Charm (Avis) · Inanimatus Conjurus Spell · Bouquet Spell (Orchideous) · Snake Summons Spell (Serpentsortia)
Transforming Spells Animal to Water Goblet (Vera Verto) · Armadillo to Pillow · Bowling Ball to Balloon · Beetle to Button · Cauldron to Badger · Cat to Cauldron (Felifors) · Cauldron Cakes to Cabbages · Chair to Cat · Cross-Species Switches · Desk Into Pig · Fairy Cakes to Fairies · Feather Duster to Ferret · Ferret to Feather Duster · Goldfinch to Golden Snitch · Flobberworm to Fritter · Gnomes to Lawn Gnomes · Guinea Fowl to Guinea Pig · Gobstone to Skunk · Hedgehog to Pin Cushion · Lovebird to Love Note · Match to Needle · Meddling Man to Monkey · Mice to Snuffboxes · Owl to Opera Glasses (Strigiforma) · Pawn to Queen · Porcupine to Pin Cushion (Hystrifors) · Puffskein to Paperweight · Small Child to Rat · Small Object to Dragon (Draconifors) · Snail to Teapot · Target to Bird (Avifors) · Target to Matchbox (Flintifors) · Target to Rabbit (Lapifors) · Teacup into Gerbil · Teacup to Rat · Teapot to Tortoise · Thimble to Thestral · Toad to Toadstool · Tortoise to Trumpet · White Rabbits to Slippers