Depicting verbs in American Sign Language

The older linguistic term smiliar to depicting verbs used to be known as "classifier predicates". Classifier is a handshape that represents a class of nouns. It functions similar to pronoun.

First, a noun is signed before using a classifier that represents or depicts the noun in a verb phrase.

Below are some examples of the depicting verbs.

cl-car-over-hill, cl-car-pass-by, cl-person-clumsily-walking, etc.

An example of the sentence that contains the subject, depicating verb, and object is as follows:

wood dcl-stick cl1-loc, man cl2-trip-over-stick (English: A man trips over the wood stick.


Clayton Valli, et al. "Linguistics of American Sign Language: An Introduction." Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press. 2005. Pp 76-82.

Charlotte Haker-Shenk and Dennis Cokely. "American Sign Language: A Teacher's Resource Text on Grammar and Culture." Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet Press. 1980.

Also see classifiers in sign language

You may also be interested in see indicating verbs in sign language linguistics

These are some ASL lessons, tutorials, and tips that ASL students and language enthusiasts can explore and learn some ASL on their own relaxing pace.

Seeking some challenges? Try some stories, fables, and others in ASL storytelling and poetry. Study a complex system of subtle eye gazes, role-shifting, classifiers, sentence structures, and other linguistic features as well as poetics.