Switching is a sub-branch of Transfiguration and a form of transformation — it is the art of magically exchanging physical features between two targets. The only known sub-group of switching is Cross-Species Switches.
Switching spells are taught to second or third year students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and wizardry, an entry on Switches can 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.
Hermione Granger knew quite a bit about Switching Spells already in her first year, and gained some house points for it from McGonagall.
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.
In a students fifth year of education they must sit the Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) examinations. On the Transfiguration O.W.L. a student most answer a written question that asks for the definition of a switching spell.
Switching greatly resembles general transformation, but with with two main differences: firstly, the features of the two targets are switched simultaneously; secondly, the change in one of the pair is 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 are learn is not known. However, Professor McGonagall was impressed when Hermione knew about switches as a first year student but was disappointed in Neville for not being able to perform even simple switches by fourth year. Therefore, students must start 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 is through the application of Switching spells.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - (Mentioned multiple times in various forms)
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
Notes and references