Comprehend Languages 5E Spell

Hello spellcasters of all shapes and sizes! Welcome to my spellbook and thank you so much for checking out the 20th episode of our first level spell series. Do you ever just wish you could understand everyone all the time, well if that’s the case let me introduce you to dnd 5e spells comprehend languages.

It is usable by the bard, sorcerer, warlock and the wizard of course through extension anyone else with their access to spell lists would also have this and it is found in the players handbook. Let’s get into the mechanics real quick here just we kind of give the gist of what’s we’re talking about.


The effect at a glance is as followed: You understand the literal meaning of any spoken language that you hear, you also understand any written language that you can see so long as you can touch the surface on which the words are written. It takes about one minute to read one page of text. The spell doesn’t decode secret messages in a text or a glyph, such as an arcane sigil, that isn’t part of a written language. So that’s fair.

  • Level: 1st
  • Casting Time: 1 Action (Ritual)
  • Range/Area: Self
  • Components: V, S, M
  • Duration: 1 Hour
  • School: Divination
  • Attack/Save: None
  • Damage/Effect: Social

The cast time is one action, you can also ritual cast this for 10 minutes and very cool stuff so no need to really burn up a spell slot. The range is self, the duration is an impressive 1 hour.

The components it’s actually a holy trinity spell believe it or not it is somatic, material and verbal meaning you have to gesture with one hand, there is a material component in this case a pinch of soot and a salt and a verbal component meaning you have to speak forth an incantation.

The school is unsurprisingly divination. I suppose it could also be enchantment but it is divination by 5e standards. The full description however is as followed.


For some particular duration, you’re able to understand the literal meaning of any spoken language which you hear. You can also understand any type of written language which you see, but anyway you should keep touching the surface on which the words are written. It normally takes about 1 minute to read one page of text. Usually, this spell does not decode the Secret messages in a text or in a glyph, like an arcane sigil, which isn’t part of a written language.

So pretty cool, there’s a little bit to unpack there though. First and foremost you understand the literal meaning of any spoken language you hear. So if there’s a lot of jargon in the language or a lot of things that are taking contextually it might be kind of hard to understand, you essentially understand languages like a lizard person would like very simple, very kind of cut and dry very literal right! However that caveat does not apply to the written languages.

So on the written languages this is up to your dm discretion i kind of get the gist of what the spells saying but this is kind of a little bit of a loophole so on the written language the only caveat is you much must be touching the surface meaning you can get the contextual underlay without really worrying too much about it.

So i think it’s very useful. The problem would be if it’s in a position where you can’t physically touch it and even then i would argue that mage hand would still count as physically touching and naturally this is up to your DMs discretion the decoded messages thing kinda makes sense as well.

Yeah, i don’t know i play that one by ear too actually depends on your characters background whether or not they would understand parts of it. I’d have them roll a history i guess with disadvantage if it’s feasible the other characters could have run across at some point in their time. In any case let’s look into some alternative uses here.

Alternative Uses

So, one that i really like is being able to ease drop on people who you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to or who wouldn’t really suspect you ease dropping on them. This would be really good for the exotic languages especially because it’d be fairly safe to assume that people would speak those openly, only to members of their sect or group or race or however you want to break it down in your world.

So ease drop they’re gonna be a really good use for this and on that same kind of know we were talking about earlier about the understanding the context behind written words.

If you happen to see some text or tone that’s an illegible writing and you’d really like to understand it, this spell would kind of get you there.

Now i would caution you a little bit because what’s written in a lot of those books particularly the ones to do with in the more chaotic kind of the fools and gods of that kind of mind altering, bending, old god type deal. It would probably do you more harm than good to read it. That being said, i mean your characters whatever they would do just make sure it’s immersive right!

Attributes Of Comprehend Languages 5E Spell

Casting Time1 action
ClassesBard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
ComponentsV S M
Duration1 hour
MaterialA pinch of soot and salt
NameComprehend Languages

In any case guys, that’s about all i got for you. If you have any crazy uses or alternative uses or stories or anything like that please post them down in the comments below. I love reading them and i know everyone else does as well. I’ve had some really great conversations with you guys so keep up the good work and without further ado thank you so much and as always happy casting.

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