Category: Grammar

  • Cabinet
  • Tablecloth
  • Spoon
  • Fork
  • Knife
  • For
  • Remember (events and facts)
  • Think
  • Know
  • Shoes
  • Boots
  • Socks
  • Pillow
  • Horn
  • Unicorn
  • Whale
  • Idiot
  • Writing
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Popcorn

Another more random list 🙂 have fun!

This week we touched on basic sentence structure and practiced with a few short sentences.  We will do this in more detail in later lessons :]

Generally, the order of the sentence is as follows:

time, subject, object, verb, negation [not, never, no, etc.]

Verbs are not conjugated in sign language, so the meaning of the sentence [you vs. I, question vs. statement] is based highly on context and facial expressions.  Also, the sentences use only the necessary words to get the point across, which means they are much simpler than English sentences.

Examples: [words in brackets are optional depending on context]

I eat breakfast at 8am. –> 8 morning food/eat [refresher/breakdown: time is indicated by the sign for the number rising from your “watch”, then the sign for morning, then the noun/verb for food/eat–they’re the same]

She goes to work at 9am. –> 9 morning [she] work goes to

Eddie plays basketball every Friday. –> weekly Friday Eddie basketball plays

I don’t drink beer. –> beer [drink] never/not

I have a test on Thursday. –> Thursday test [I] have

Sorry if this format is confusing…if you can think of a better way for me to “translate” just let me know!

Level 1:


  • To turn an activity into the type of person that performs it, add the “p” in a down motion after the action sign.
    • Ex: Art –> Artist.
  • Generally in ASL, male people signs (like “boy” and “man”) occur above the nose; female signs are usually below the nose. This video shows in greater detail (and has links to more fun things!).

People Signs:

  • people
  • man
  • woman
  • girl
  • boy
  • mom
  • dad
  • grandma
  • grandpa
  • sister
  • brother
  • cousin (girl and boy and neutral)
  • aunt
  • uncle
  • niece
  • nephew
  • daughter
  • son
  • baby
  • wife
  • husband
  • friend
  • family
  • These are other YouTube-ers that have varying vocab:
    • One — bland, but concise.
    • Two — step-by-step.
  • blue
  • green
  • purple
  • yellow
  • orange
  • red
  • pink
  • black
  • white
  • tan
  • brown
  • gray
  • silver
  • gold

Level 3:
For a preemptive strike, we started interpreting Christmas carols this week. Look in the coming weeks for our attempts at conveying Christmas cheer with ASL!

ASL in the Headlines

I was reading today and found this headline:

“Did you know that American Sign Language is not related to English?” .

I read the article and thought that you all may enjoy reading through it, as well as an article written by William C. Stokoe, Jr. who is largely responsible for the creation of ASL.


Levels 1 and 2 were combined this week; level 3 continued separately.

Levels 1 & 2:

Telling Time: This is done in ASL by bringing the proper number sign up from the wrist and then adding “morning”, “afternoon”, “night” as necessary.

Introduction to Sentence Structure: Speaking an ASL sentence is much like drawing a picture. You start with: time –> subject –> object –> verb –> question –> negation. 

Vocabulary Review:

  • Basic answers to questions
    • fine
    • good
    • bad
    • ok
    • so-so
    • sick
    • gross
    • happy
    • sad
    • yes
    • no
    • not
    • never
    • none/nothing
  • Time signs
    • time
    • now/today
    • tomorrow
    • yesterday
    • everyday/daily
    • Monday-Sunday
    • week
    • weekend
    • last week
    • next week
    • month
    • monthly
    • year
    • every year
    • future
    • past
    • close/near,
    • morning
    • noon
    • afternoon
    • night
    • midnight
    • all day
    • all night
    • day
    • hour
    • minute
    • spring
    • summer
    • fall
    • winter
  • Polite signs
    • Thank you
    • You’re welcome
    • please
    • sorry

Level 3:

We spoke briefly about the absence of sarcasm in ASL, and noted that ASL has its own idiomatic expressions that are different from those of spoken English. For example, one would not literally translate “It’s raining cats and dogs” in ASL, instead they would just make exaggerated signs and faces for “rain”.

We also learned some about directionality and the differences/similarities between the signs for:

  • me—my—-myself
  • you–your–yourself
  • we—ours—us
  • the two of us
  • you and I “sharing”, having something in common; or two objects that have something in common or the same.
  • I tell you
  • You tell me

The main focus during the meeting today was creating sentences with the right word order as well as some vocabulary to make said sentences. To denote the differences between the two, spoken English will be on the left, and the ASL equivalent will be to the right of the “–>”.

  • Why weren’t you here last week? –> Last week you here not why? or Last week you gone why?
  • I can’t find the book. –> Book find can’t.
    • If you wanted to add possession, such as “my book”, then the sentence becomes –> Book mine find can’t.
  • Where is the trash can? –> Trash (put) where?
  • What is the homework? –> Homework what?
  • I have to go to class. –> Class go to must.
  • I ate breakfast this morning. –> Today morning food I ate.
  • I like your necklace. –> Necklace yours I like.
  • I’m going shopping tonight. –> Today night shopping I go.
  • I’m going shopping next week. –> Next week shopping will happen.
  • I’m happy that the rain stopped. –> Rain stop me happy.
  • I don’t understand. –> I understand not.


  • Verbs:
    • leave
    • hurry
    • shopping
    • need/must
    • know
    • understand 
    • fail
    • pass/succeed
  • Adjectives:
    • tired
    • smart
    • stupid
    • dumb
    • idiot(ic)
  • Nouns
    • church
    • test
    • Clothes
      • jacket
      • pants
      • skirt
      • dress
      • shirt
      • glasses
  • Other:
    • everything/all
    • very
    • that
    • because (“why” with raised eyebrows)
  • Cascades:
    • grow
    • gone
      • paper
      • nice
      • school
      • cheese
      • movie
    • meet
    • kiss
    • different
    • divorce
      • success
      • famous

We discussed, again, the importance of topicalization [non-hand elements of signs]. For example, the difference between “who”, “salad” and “here” relies on differences in topicalization.

We separated into 3 group levels this meeting.

Level one:

  • ABC-s
  • 123-s
  • “W-” questions
    • Who
    • What
    • Where
    • When
    • Why
    • How
    • How are you?
    • How many (what number)
    • Which
    • What’s up?
    • What are you doing, what’s going on, what are you going to do?
Level Two: 
  • Responses to “How are you?”
    • Fine
    • Good
    • Bad
    • OK
    • So-so
    • Gross
    • Sick
    • Happy
    • Sad
  • Responses to “Yes/No” questions
    • Yes
    • No
    • Not
    • None
    • Never
  • Time signs
    • Time
    • Today
    • Yesterday
    • Tomorrow
    • Daily
    • Week
    • Weekly
    • Weekend
    • Month
    • Monthly
    • Year
    • Yearly
    • Monday-Sunday
Level 3: 
  • Basic ASL Sentence Structure: Time –> Subject –> Verb –> Negation (if any) –> Question (if any).
  • Furniture words review
  • Verbs
    • remember
    • forget/forgot
    • learn
    • study
    • teach
    • think
    • imagine
    • help [directional]
    • give
    • love
    • hate
    • like
    • don’t like
    • want
    • go out
    • run
    • walk
    • play
    • cook
    • clean
    • work
    • finish/done
    • arrive
    • try
    • focus
    • hear(ing)
    • drive
  • Nouns
    • noise
    • earthquake
    • traffic
    • garage
    • car crash
    • car
    • truck
  • Adjectives
    • hot
  • Cascades (one sign that leads to another related sign)
    • live
    • address
    • “You live where?”
      • memories
      • suppress
      • show
    • Pizza
    • Pepsi
      • dry
      • ugly
      • summer
      • black
    • write
    • paint

We reviewed the:

  • Alphabet
  • Fingerspelling &
  • Numbers 1-20

We learned:

  • Facial expressions (aka: topicalization or Non-Manual Markers [NMMs]) are important in ASL:
    • “Grammatical markers in facial expression includes eye-shifting and eye-glancing, head-tilting and head-shifting, cheek-puffing, lip movement, nose-furrowing, and eyebrow-shifting. Facial signifiers can convey a wide variety of meanings” (
    • These facial expressions are usually used in conjunction with specific signs.
    • Questions where a response is expected to be “Yes/No” are asked with upraised eyebrows. Take a look.
    • Questions with non-“Yes/No” answers (such as the “W” questions) are asked with eyebrows shifted down, as if the questioner is confused or concerned. Take a look; and scroll down for another look.
  • “W-” Questions:
    • Who
    • What
    • Where
    • When
    • Why
    • How
    • How are you?
    • Which
    • What’s up?
    • What are you doing, what’s going on, what are you going to do?

Back-logging [Grammar]

Hello again ASL-enthusiasts! The ONU ASL Club has been up and running since the 2009-2010 school year, and has been diligently pursuing knowledge about Deaf culture and ASL formally ever since. Since our humble beginnings, we have learned a few ASL grammar lessons, which are listed and described briefly below.

  • Introduction to topicalization: This is the subject of things other than the signs made by the hands, such as things done with the face and body while signing. When asking questions, such as those on the “Wh- questions list”, the signer’s eyebrows are to be down. If the signer is asking a question that can be answered with “yes/no”, the signer’s eyebrows are to be raised.
  • Introduction to sentence structure: One can understand the way an ASL sentence is structured using the picture drawing method. If one was trying to sign: “The cat ran up the tree”, one would first draw the tree, cat, and then motion of the cat. Typically, the ASL sentence is created in the order of:
    1. time
    2. subject
    3. object
    4. verb
    5. question
    6. negation
  • Personal Descriptors: To describe different types of people, sometimes one must turn a noun into a person. For example, “art” becomes “artist” by signing the word “art” followed by adding the double “p” down motion afterwards for “person”– making “art person” into “artist”.
  • Signer’s Perspective: When explaining things spatially, such as the setup of a room, one must first set up the perimeter of the space. This is to be done, as the subject name implies, from the signer’s perspective [They describe the room from the doorway as they would see it from inside the doorway]. Then, the signer goes about describing the room from either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction from the outermost perimeter of the room and cycling in until they have reached the room’s center. Relativity can be used to place things in the pre-determined room. If the “listener” were to repeat the room back to the initial signer, they would do so from their own perspective [They would still describe the room from the doorway as they would see it from inside the doorway].
  • Talking about Multiple People: When talking about multiple people, it is common for the signer to assign a space on the signing plane to each party by signing the character’s name/name-sign and “placing” them. Then every time that character is referred to, the signer specifies that spot, instead of resigning the name/name-sign each time.
  • Recounting a Conversation: Something about leaning to designate which speaker said what.