Can You Cast a Cantrip and Spell on the Same Turn in 5e?

Yes. And No.

It depends on whether the spell is an action or a bonus action. You can cast a cantrip and spell on the same turn in 5e if the spell is a bonus action and the cantrip is an action. So, technically, this is two spells, one turn. A cantrip is still considered a spell – a level-0 spell.

Cantrip and Spell on the Same Turn?

“Can I cast a cantrip and spell on the same turn”” is a great question. But many DMs and players don’t have a good handle on it. If you adventure through 5e with a spellcaster, this question is extremely likely to come up. So here are the facts according to 5e RAW (rules as written):

  • You can cast a cantrip and a spell in the same turn if the spell is listed as a “bonus action” AND the cantrip is an action.
  • This is technically considered two spells in one turn only because one of them is a cantrip.
  • You can’t cast two spells of level 1 or above in the same turn even if one is a bonus action
  • You can’t cast a bonus action cantrip and an action spell on the same turn.
  • It is the spell that has to be the bonus action (not the cantrip).
You can cast a cantrip and a spell in the same turn if the spell is listed as a “bonus action” AND the cantrip is an action.
Images by Carla Bumstead/WOTC

Cantrip vs. “Spell”

Cantrips are spells – level 0 spells. But they function differently than spells of level 1 or higher. They do not need spells slots and can be cast over and over (on subsequent turns.). When you hear “you can’t cast two spells on the same turn,” it means leveled spells. When it comes to actions in 5e, when you hear/read the word “spell,” don’t think “cantrip.” Think spells of level 1 or higher.

A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, without using a spell slot and without being prepared in advance. Repeated practice has fixed the spell in the caster’s mind and infused the caster with the magic needed to produce the effect over and over. A cantrip’s spell level is 0.

– Player’s Handbook, page 201

“Can I cast two spells in one turn?” The technical answer is “yes.” But this is only if one of them is a cantrip and the other is a bonus action spell of Level 1 or higher.

As shown on this cleric’s D&D Beyond character sheet, they have a healthy assortment of bonus action spells available.
Image courtesy DDB

Action vs. Bonus Action

Actions take more time than bonus actions. Most spells and most cantrips take an action. But some can be done more quickly and only take a bonus action. Some of the most popular bonus action spells include:

  • Healing Word
  • Shillelagh
  • Spiritual Weapon
  • Hex
  • Misty Step

Regardless of exactly what type of spellcaster you are, it is well worth your while to take a close look at what your bonus actions are. Some classes have a lot of options. For others, it is more limited.

Clerics? Wow

Wizards? Not so much

Wizards in 5e have notoriously few bonus action spells available.

Action Economy in 5e

When it comes to combat in D&D 5e, so much comes down to action economy.

Action economy looks at what a character (or creature) can do on one of its turns. A cantrip and spell on the same turn is an excellent example of action economy. Take Bob the Cleric for an example:

Bob casts spiritual weapon as a bonus action, whacking the dragon as part of that bonus action. Then, he “tolls the bell” (toll the dead) as an action, landing a whooping D12-worth of necrotic damage on top of the spiritual weapon damage. In combat, the more chances you have to deal damage, the more damage you are gonna do. That is serious action economy.

Cantrip and Spell on the Same Turn – Which Comes First?

Remember, it does not matter whether you use your bonus action before or after you take your action – at least in terms of the rules. However, some are clearly best done before your action. Cast your hex first and then hurl some eldritch blasts. And don’t do misty step until after your attack action!

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