Level: Beginner I

Possessives in Sign Language

A possessive adjective is a grammatical feature used to indicate a relationship of ownership or possession.

This shows you 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. Unlike the personal pronouns (using finger-pointing), the possessive adjectives usues the whole "B-thumb" handshape.

MY, YOUR, HIS/HER, ITS, OUR

Unlike the possessive pronouns (e.g. mine, yours, hers, theirs, etc.) in ASL, the movement for most possessive adjectives is generally once, whereas the movement is generally twice for the possessive pronouns (mine, yours, etc.)

Vocabulary - singular form

Learn or review basic possessive adjectives in the singular form in ASL.

ASL: my

It is a singular possessive adjective.

ASL: your

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: her, his

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

Vocabulary: plural form

ASL: their, also theirs

THEIR, also THEIRS

The example of this movement is a form of pluralization, in contrast to the movement of the ASL word his/her.

OUR

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

Possessive Pronouns

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

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)

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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.

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