How to use Siri Translate

Siri allows you to translate words and phrases from English into a growing selection of other languages, here's how to do it.

Siri User Guide
Siri User Guide

Using Siri, you can translate words and phrases from English into several other languages. These currently include English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian.

Translation has been possible on Apple devices for several years, but recent operating system updates have introduced the Translate app.

Note: Translation in the reverse direction, from another language into English, isn't currently available.

Watch our quick video guide, or scroll down to read our in-depth tutorial.

How to use the Translate app in iOS 14

The release of iOS 14 provides some welcome upgrades to Siri translate. The update adds the ability to save multiple language packs to your device for offline usage. Great when traveling to areas with a poor internet connection.

If the Translate app isn't already installed on your iPhone, download it from the App Store.

Translate App

How to convert phrases using the iOS 14 Siri Translate app

When the Translate app is installed, Siri will automatically use it to process your translation requests.

Activate Siri on an iPhone by using one of these options:

  1. Say “Hey Siri” followed by your request.
  2. Press and hold the Side button (iPhone X and newer) or Home button (iPhone 8 and older) on your iPhone.

(If this doesn't work, learn how to set up Siri on an iPhone).

Simply speak the words in English that you want to be translated for yourself or for another person to hear. Your iPhone will convert your phrase into the preferred language. For example, say:

Hey Siri, translate 'what is your name' into Spanish
  • Siri will speak the translation in the language you defined and display a notification on your iPhone screen. To take advantage of the new translation features:
  • Tap on the notification to open it in the Translate app.
  • Tap the Play icon below the translation to hear it read out loud by Siri. This is useful if you want to learn how to pronounce a phrase or play it directly to the person you're speaking with.

If your iPhone is in portrait mode, the display splits into two halves. The top half shows the current languages you're using, plus the current phrase and its translation.

The bottom half contains a microphone button and text input box, so you can type in a query manually rather than using dictation.

  • Tap the microphone button, speak the phrase naturally, and the new translation will appear on the screen.
  • Type the phrase in manually using the iPhone keyboard.

Learn the meaning of words with the language dictionary

Siri translate also provides further information on individual words in the translated text.

Tap on any word in the interpretation, and a dictionary will pop up, providing various definitions and sample usage of the word.

Siri Translation

Attention mode

Rotating the iPhone so that the display is in landscape view puts it in Attention Mode.

Tap on the icon with two arrows pointing away from each other at the bottom left of the screen, and the translation displays in larger text.

This feature could be used for showing a translated message to someone such as a taxi driver when you could use it to ask to be taken to an address.

Translation Attention Mode

How to use conversation mode in Siri Translate

Landscape view can also be used for Conversation Mode. This displays a thread of your phrases and their translations across a given conversation. This can help track what's already been said. Conversation mode works for downloaded languages even when you don't have a Wi-fi or cellular connection.

How to use Siri Translate offline with downloaded languages

For those occasions when you want to use Siri Translate and have no internet connection, there's the On-device mode. This feature allows you to download language packs to your device, so you can access translation features when a signal isn't available.

To download a language for offline use:

  • Tap on the from language at the top left of the screen.
  • Scroll down to Available Offline Languages.
  • Tap the download icon next to the language you wish to save on your iPhone.
Download Languages

Translations are processed on your device, and no information is sent to Apple servers, which is better for your security and privacy.

How to save favorites in Siri Translate

Apple has also introduced the capability to save Favorites, perfect if you're going to be needing to say the same phrase frequently.

  • To save a favorite, tap on the star icon below the translation.
  • View your existing favorites by tapping the star icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • Delete a favorite by swiping left and tapping Delete.

A list of your most recent translations is also displayed on the favorites screen. If you want to keep any of them, tap on the star icon to permanently add them to your favorites list.

Setting up Siri Translate (iOS 13 and below)

At launch, translate only worked with Siri's default language preferences set to English (United States).

Thankfully subsequent updates have enabled translation for many more localized languages, such as English (United Kingdom). So if you find Siri translate doesn't work with your default settings and want to try it out, you'll need to set the language to English (United States).

  • Open Settings on your device.
  • Navigate to Siri & Search.
  • Under Language select English (United States).

How to use Siri Translate

  • Activate Siri by holding down the side/home button or saying "Hey Siri". (Not sure how to do this? Take a look at our how to activate Siri and how to use Siri guides).
  • Speak the phrase you want to translate, preceded by "how do I say" or "translate" followed by the language you want it translated to.

For example:

Hey Siri, how do I say ‘where is the nearest hotel‘ in German?
Hey Siri, translate ‘I would like to book a table for two at your restaurant please‘ into French

Siri will respond by reading out the translation and displaying the text on the screen. To play the audio again, press the play button located at the bottom right of the translation.

You can also follow up on your initial translation request by asking for the same phrase in another language.

For example, while the results screen is still displayed, say:

In Italian?

Siri will then update the audio and refresh the written phrase.

Despite a few limitations, translation using Siri is accurate and well implemented. As long as Apple continues to add additional languages and include reverse translation in the future, it can only grow in usefulness.

Want to discover more about using Siri, Apple’s popular virtual assistant? We’ve written a helpful collection of tutorials full of techniques for using apps, dictation, using Siri Shortcuts, and a comprehensive beginner’s guide to activating and using Siri.