The Find Familiar spell states that:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.


Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands. In combat, it rolls its own initiative and acts on its own turn. A familiar can’t attack, but it can take other actions as normal.

None of the familiars in the Find Familiar list are capable of speaking, nor do they know languages. Nevertheless, they can understand your commands, and they can take actions like Help and Search which are largely language-driven actions.

Also, the description of the spell Telepathy reads:

Until the spell ends, you and the target can instantaneously share words, images, sounds, and other sensory messages with one another through the link, and the target recognizes you as the creature it is communicating with. The spell enables a creature with an Intelligence score of at least 1 to understand the meaning of your words and take in the scope of any sensory messages you send to it.

and Speak with Animals reads:

You gain the ability to comprehend and verbally communicate with beasts for the duration. The knowledge and awareness of many beasts is limited by their intelligence, but at minimum, beasts can give you information about nearby locations and monsters, including whatever they can perceive or have perceived within the past day. You might be able to persuade a beast to perform a small favor for you, at the DM’s discretion.

To what extent can a simple animal familiar gained through Find Familiar understand and communicate/converse with you? Does Find Familiar intrinsically include the capabilities under Telepathy and Speak with Animals as you interact with your familiar?


1 Answer 1


Your familiar understands you perfectly.

You've already quoted nearly all relevant text in your answer. Telepathy (within range) communicates without necessarily using words, but the target (with int >= 1) understands perfectly.

I think your confusion comes from when you state

simple animal familiar gained

There is simply no such thing. From the spell description:

You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form

and thus it's impossible for it to actually be a simple animal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! The reason I mentioned "simple animal" was to differentiate from the creatures that warlocks can get. \$\endgroup\$
    – Robbie
    Jul 11, 2016 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can see now what you were going for, but I still think it's important to emphasize the inherent difference there. The standard spirit familiars are much more closely related to the Warlock's imp/pseudodragon/quasit/sprite than the beasts they resemble. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2016 at 22:39

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