If you use Twitter, this is a post for you that will teach you a power user super tip: how to filter Twitter search results by language.

Twitter is a fantastic service, offering tidbits of information in 140 characters or less. You can follow your friends or news channels or favourite brands, and stay up to date with what’s going on in the world, as it happens. However, if you want to see something specific, you can always launch a search to find what you’re looking for across the Twitter network. This is a great way to find some information, or more likely, links to sites to deliver even more in-depth information. But what many people don’t know is that they can supercharge their Twitter searches to get even more relevant information.

The part that isn’t commonly known is that Twitter supports regular expression (regex) searches. And this doesn’t just work on the Twitter website, but also on Tweetbot, my hands-down favourite Twitter client for OS X and iOS (and presumably other clients as well). [1]

My number one complaint when I search for something on Twitter is that sometimes it returns search results in different languages. Usually, this is because my search term is ambiguous enough and has multiple meanings across different languages. But, I don’t necessarily want tweets in languages that I don’t understand clouding my search results and making it harder to pick out useful tweets. So this power user tip will help you to only surface tweets with your search terms in the language of your choice.

To get search results in Twitter in only one specified language while ignoring and not displaying all others, here is how you do it. First off, you need to know the ISO 639–1 language code of the language that you want to see in your search results. Then, you simply add “lang:nn” to the end of your search term, where “nn” is your language code.

For example, if I want to search for polar bears and only get English results, I would type in the search field:

polar bears lang:en

Similarly, if I wanted to find tweets about espresso in Italian, I would search for:

espresso lang:it

If you are using Tweetbot or another Twitter client that supports it, you can even save these searches to come back to later. This is an amazingly convenient feature, and by including a regex modifier to limit the language, it makes the search results that much more relevant to you! Give it a try and let me know what you think. And come back soon, as I’m going to do another post with additional modifiers that you can include in your searches!


  1. By the way, Tweetbot has just released version 4 for iOS, which is a universal app for iPhone and iPad – highly recommended!  ↩

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