So if I understand correctly you can learn new words and the souls will activate these words. I just killed a dragon and when it died it looked like I absorbed the soul but it didn't unlock any of the words I have.

I noticed some dragons actually have a name so do certain dragons unlock certain words?

  • I've experienced this 'bug' on PC a few times, where I had a good 5-10 souls available and wasn't able to unlocked a learned word because it 'required a dragon soul'. A restart always fixed it.
    – JoeB
    Nov 27 '11 at 4:16

Dragon souls can be saved, so don't worry that the effort in killing the dragon is lost.

Please note that you need to discover additional shouts if you have learned/activated all your current words, this way you can use your saved dragon souls on the new words of the new shouts.

Shouts are discovered on the walls of old ruins, and gained by slaying and absorbing the souls of dragons. As more are slain the users ability to learn and use new shouts increases.

Wikia - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragon Shouts

In order to learn new shouts, you need to find all these word walls; you can get a quest to the next:

Although finding word walls can be very challenging try and use shouts in major cities. Whenever you do this you should receive a note from a courier which tells you "a note for your hands only" this note starts a quest to find a source of power and the current location of the next word wall.

Wikia - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Word Wall (Contains more details on all the locations)

To actually learn a new shout, once you have discovered the word wall and have a dragon soul to use, you need to manually activate it in the shouts menu. Select the shout and press the Activate button. It should be shown on your screen, but I believe the buttons are:

  • R on PC

  • X on Xbox

  • on PS3

  • 1
    Thanks a ton for this! I had no idea about the using shouts in towns thing. Very helpful!
    – spugsley
    Nov 13 '11 at 14:19
  • Got the feeling I am missing a crucial part of information. You learn new words from reading them. (mostly from walls in dungeons I presume). If you kill a dragon you absorb his soul. With this soul you can unlock the word you read in a dungeon. But I have a word that I learned which is not active. I killed a dragon and went to the shouts menu and clicked the inactive shout. I then get the error that you can only activate shouts with dragon souls. But since I just killed a dragon shouldn't I have a soul?
    – Pickels
    Nov 13 '11 at 14:57
  • 1
    @Pickels the same menu should have a counter of some sort: "Dragon Souls: 1|0". If it's 1, you should be able to unlock a shout. If it's 0, for whatever reason you didn't absorb that last dragon's soul. Nov 13 '11 at 16:25
  • What about on Xbox ? How do we do this on Xbox Dec 15 '11 at 12:38
  • 1
    The greybeards also tell you where "their echoes can be found"
    – juan
    Dec 15 '11 at 13:22

You have to spend the saved up dragon souls on unactive words to learn and activate them from the shouts submenu in the magic menu. I just found this out after being very confused also. On the pc this is done by highlighting the unactive shout and then pressing R. On the PS3, it is done with the Square button.

New shouts can be learned all over the world from finding word walls.

Dragon souls are absorbed and saved after killing a dragon.

To get some early new shouts you can ask the greybears for a few word wall locations, it will start up a small quest.

  • OOOOOOOOOOOOh. I've learn 10 words but I can only use 2 of them. I must have killed around 10 dragons by now and I was wondering why I couldn't use them!
    – Coomie
    Nov 16 '11 at 6:23
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    Thanks for pointing this out--the UI here is very unintuitive. You click a shout and it just says they must be unlocked with a soul, but doesn't ask if you want to use a soul to unlock it. I totally missed the [R] key to unlock the shout.
    – devios1
    Nov 28 '11 at 23:00

After you absorb the soul, open the magic menu and click shouts. On the PS3, you hit X on the shout, then square to apply the soul to the shout.

  • It says something like 'Only dragon souls can activate shouts'. Even after I just killed a dragon.
    – Pickels
    Nov 13 '11 at 15:05

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