Conjunctions in Sign Language

Conjunction is a word that connect words, phrases, or clauses. An example of the conjunctions in English are: and, but, because, etc. ASL has a number of conjunctions, which some of them are similar to English (e.g. BUT, IF, BECAUSE, etc.) but some others are exclusive to ASL.

The conjunctions in ASL sign language are used to link clauses. They are usually accompanied with raised eyebrows. Use the gloss /\ for raised eyebrows) on this website.

Keep in mind that the glosses are transliteration (representing the signs, not meanings) for the sake of writing in English. The glosses are not a translation. For example, the gloss FINISH has multiple meanings as in conjunction, verb, and interjection.

Beginner ASL students may have already learned a few common conjunctions "FINISH" and "WRONG" in ASL level one. In level two, the students learn a few more conjunctions, such as conj-HAPPEN, conj-HIT, etc. Some more conjunctions can be seen in use by native/fluent Deaf signers.

ASL conjunctions

These are the conjunctions of the following closest-equivalent glosses below. Please disregard the English words (glosses) that are not associated with their English meanings.

conj-FINISH - then; when done; completed.

conj-WRONG - suddenly, without warning; unknowingly.

conj-DO-DO - what is planned next or expected.

conj-UNDERSTAND - however; with the condition.

conj-FIND - only to find out that; realize that.

conj-HAPPEN/\ - in a coincidence that; happened that.

conj-HIT/COINCIDENCE - unexpectedly; in a coincidence.

conj-ONE - something extraordinary out of "same old".

conj-FRUSTRATE(SLAM-CHIN) - to be prevented from; unfortunately turned out that.

conj-WHY/BECAUSE - because.

Other conjunctions: conj-HOW, conj-REASON.


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Before you read the text below. Try to detect a conjunction in the video. Can you find one? If not, read the glosses below for a clue.

ASL glossed as: /\passport to-apply/\ you need 2h-DO /\HOW/\ GO-to #PO, PICK-UP APPLICATION FORM, BRING-it HOME, FILL-OUT++ EVERYTHING F-GOOD/\, APPLICATION(obj) SEND-to PASSPORT OFFICE [nod]/\ WAIT++ (nms) receive-it [nod]/\.

English translation: To apply for a passport, what you need to do is to pick up an application package at a post office, complete all necessary paperwork, send it to the passport office and the passport will be sent to you.

Reveal the conjunction.

Related posts

For beginners, learn conjunction FINISH and conjunction WRONG to gain a basic understanding of the conjunctions in ASL.

For an intermediate level and beyond, see conjunction ONE, conj-HAPPEN.

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