Question sentences in American Sign Language

A vocal-auditory speaker asks a question with a certain vocal tone. On the other hand, a visual-manual speaker asks a question with a certain facial tone with or without the signed word "Q" or "question" (as illustrated below).

The signed question above is called a wiggling question marker or "wg-q" and its variants used in glossing.

Not all questions end with this signed word -- wiggling question. Facial grammar or non-manual tone can indicate a question.

Yes-No Question

A yes-no question is usually accompanied with the raised brows, widened eyes and forward-tilted head. Sometimes, holding the last sign-word at the end of sentence also anticipates an answer. In some contexts, the yes-no questions also occur with the downward brows.


A wh-question is referred to when, what, why, who, how, and where questions. The brows are usually burrowed, accompanied with the wh-question sign in a wh-question sentence. Holding the last word/sign at the end of a sentence also may indicate a question (waiting for a response).

Rhetorical Questions

A rhetorical question is more of a statement using the wh-question type. It is not a true question, yet it is a way of pulling a listener's attention by asking a question and then answering. The signer does not expect the listener to respond.

Unlike the wh-question, the brows are raised when signing a rh-question sign. The rh-question signs also function as conjunctions.

Related posts

A question signals for yes/no question, wh-q question, and rhetorical question