Intermediate I

Describing a room with classifiers

This tutorial shows you how to describe a room, using the right perspective, classifiers for objects (i.e. furniture and items), and mouth morphemes.


The perspective when describing a room is from the signer's eye. The listener has to see through the signer's eye.

The starting point is usually from the door where one enters a room. Sign ENTER+ROOM and then describe the room. If it's a kitchen, sign ENTER+KITCHEN. Or, ENTER+BEDROOM for a bedroom.

Common classifier handshapes

ASL classifiers

The handshape looks like this image above but its palm orientation is horizontal, not upright. It can represent a group of furniture pieces such as a chair, a toilet, and a rocking chair.

ASL classifiers

The classifier, using the handshape like this, is used to represent such objects as a picture and a window.

But, in real life, the ASL speakers don't use this descriptive classifier for a window. Instead, we sign WINDOW in a particular space of the room, except for other sizes of windows. Likewise for FIREPLACE.

The classifier, using a handshape like this with the palm orientation facing down, is used to represent some furniture pieces such as a bed, a table, and a coffee table.


There is so much practice and exercise to become comfortable with describing a room that it cannot cover everything here. For example, how does one start and determine where to go next and next in a room? There are so many strategies and it would take a lot of practice in person with a teacher or a tutor. Nevetheless, here are some tips and ideas for a starter.

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