Possessive pronouns in American Sign Language

Possessive is a grammatical feature used to indicate a relationship of ownership or possession. Below shows how to use possessive adjectives, possessive pronouns, and possessive apostrophe in American Sign Language (ASL).

Possessive Adjectives

A possessive adjective is used to describe a noun. E.g. my, his, its, and so on.

MY, YOUR, HIS/HER, ITS, OUR

Unlike possessive pronouns in ASL, the movement for most possessive adjectives is generally once.

This is glossed as child poss mother which is translated into English child's mother or, though not directly translated as, mother of a/the child.

ASL: my

It is a singular possessive adjective.

ASL: your

ASL: her, his

The ASL word his/her is a non-gender specific possessive adjective.

OUR

The standalone ASL word OUR is not commonly used. It's indirectly used in a different form of grammar in ASL.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronoun is used instead of a noun. E.g. Mine, yours, theirs, ours, and so on.

A possessive pronoun is used instead of a noun. E.g. Mine, ours, etc. In ASL, the movement for some possessive pronouns is usually repetitive (twice), quick and short.

ASL: hers/his

ASL: mine

ASL: yours

Possessive Apostrophe (apostrophe + s)

Possessive apostrophe or genitive marker indicates possession. The ASL handshape "s" is rapidly turned inward to indicate "'s" right after signing an ASL word (e.g. tree's).

The handshape "s" is rapidly turned inward to indicate "'s" right after signing an ASL word (e.g. tree's).

Possessive Case

This phrase in ASL is translated as: a mother's child.

This "possessive apostrophe" method is less commonly used. More commonly used is [NOUN] POSS [NOUN] as illustrated above ("a child's mother").

It is the opposite of the previous phrase. This phrase in ASL is translated as: a child's mother.

Takeaway

It's not uncommon to see some hearing ASL students in the beginners level (and even sometimes beyond) that many of them either confuse or misuse possessive pronouns with personal pronouns. E.g. "MY" for "I/ME". Keep practicing.

Related posts

Also see personal pronouns.

Also see listing and ranking: referencing grammar.

Practice signing pronouns and possessives in sentences.