Google Sheets Tutorial Home Name

Google Sheets DETECTLANGUAGE Function

While Google Sheets shares many similar functions with Excel, the DETECTLANGUAGE function is another function that is only available in Google Sheets. Google Sheets has access to Google's powerful APIs, giving Google Sheets superpowers that Excel doesn't have. The DETECTLANGUAGE function uses Google Translate to determine the language of text that you specify, making it particularly useful when combined with the GOOGLETRANSLATE function in Google Sheets.

Syntax of the DETECTLANGUAGE Function


  • Text: The only argument in the DETECTLANGUAGE function is the text whose language you are trying to determine. The text argument can be actual text in quotes, a cell reference of a cell which contains text, or a reference to a range of cells which contain text, though referencing a range of cells is somewhat unreliable; more on this below.

The function then returns the Google Sheets language code of the language corresponding to the text in question (language codes are listed at the bottom of this article).

Examples with the DETECTLANGUAGE Function in Google Sheets

The text argument can simply be text in quotes, as shown in the example below:

=DETECTLANGUAGE("Hola como estas")

This function would return the letters "es" which is the language code for Spanish in Google Sheets and Google Translate.

Below are more examples of the DETECTLANGUAGE Function with Cell References.

2 Bonjour =DETECTLANGUAGE(A2) fr
3 こんにちは元気ですか =DETECTLANGUAGE(A3) ja
4 Olá, como vai você =DETECTLANGUAGE(A4) pt

In the examples above, we see that the text in cell A2 is written in French, so if we apply the DETECTLANGUAGE function to the cell with the following formula, it returns "fr":


This is because the cell A2 contains text written in French, and "fr" is the language code for French. This is why the same formula applied to cells A3 and A4 return "ja" and "pt" which are the language codes for Japanese and Portuguese, respectively.

The DETECTLANGUAGE function can also be applied to a range of cells. According to the Google Sheets official documentation, if the range of cells contains multiple languages, the first text found will be evaluated by the function. However, in practice this is often not the first cell in the range and is relatively unreliable. It is recommended that you only use DETECTLANGUAGE on a single cell reference.

Additionally, when supplying a range of cells as the argument to the DETECTLANGUAGE function, the range must be one-dimensional, meaning that all cells must be contained in either one row or one column. Using a two-dimensional range of cells as the argument to the function will return an error as described below.

#VALUE! Error From DETECTLANGUAGE in Google Sheets

The DETECTLANGUAGE function in Google Sheets raises the #VALUE! error in two cases:

  1. The text argument is blank. Ensure that the function argument is text inside quotation marks, or is a reference to a cell which contains text. A reference to an empty cell will result in the #VALUE! error.
  2. The text argument is a two-dimensional range, meaning the range of cells spans either multiple rows or multiple columns. Ensure that the cell range is a one-dimensional range, meaning the entire range is contained either in one row or in one column.

DETECTLANGUAGE Function Returning "und"

The DETECTLANGUAGE function in Google Sheets returns "und" when it is unable to determine the language of the text argument. The "und" stands for undefined, and this often happens when the text argument only contains numbers or punctuation. DETECTLANGUAGE simply returns "und" because it cannot determine which language numbers belong to. Ensure that the text argument contains text of a specific language.

Google Translate Language Codes

The DETECTLANGUAGE function returns language codes which correspond to the languages listed below. As of May 2022, Google Translate supports language codes for 108 different languages, meaning that you can detect the language of text for 108 different possible languages in Google Sheets.

Afrikaans af
Albanian sq
Amharic am
Arabic ar
Armenian hy
Azerbaijani az
Basque eu
Belarusian be
Bengali bn
Bosnian bs
Bulgarian bg
Catalan ca
Cebuano ceb
Chinese (Simplified) zh-cn
Chinese (Traditional) zh-tw
Corsican co
Croatian hr
Czech cs
Danish da
Dutch nl
English en
Esperanto eo
Estonian et
Finnish fi
French fr
Frisian fy
Galician gl
Georgian ka
German de
Greek el
Gujarati gu
Haitian Creole ht
Hausa ha
Hawaiian haw
Hebrew he or iw
Hindi hi
Hmong hmn
Hungarian hu
Icelandic is
Igbo ig
Indonesian id
Irish ga
Italian it
Japanese ja
Javanese jv
Kannada kn
Kazakh kk
Khmer km
Kinyarwanda rw
Korean ko
Kurdish ku
Kyrgyz ky
Lao lo
Latin la
Latvian lv
Lithuanian lt
Luxembourgish lb
Macedonian mk
Malagasy mg
Malay ms
Malayalam ml
Maltese mt
Maori mi
Marathi mr
Mongolian mn
Myanmar (Burmese) my
Nepali ne
Norwegian no
Nyanja (Chichewa) ny
Odia (Oriya) or
Pashto ps
Persian fa
Polish pl
Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil) pt
Punjabi pa
Romanian ro
Russian ru
Samoan sm
Scots Gaelic gd
Serbian sr
Sesotho st
Shona sn
Sindhi sd
Sinhala (Sinhalese) si
Slovak sk
Slovenian sl
Somali so
Spanish es
Sundanese su
Swahili sw
Swedish sv
Tagalog (Filipino) tl
Tajik tg
Tamil ta
Tatar tt
Telugu te
Thai th
Turkish tr
Turkmen tk
Ukrainian uk
Urdu ur
Uyghur ug
Uzbek uz
Vietnamese vi
Welsh cy
Xhosa xh
Yiddish yi
Yoruba yo
Zulu zu

Try Practice Problems With DETECTLANGUAGE

To fully commit this function to memory you need to get some hands on experience. Try some practice problems in our interactive Google Sheets Tutorial now!