GRAMMAR in sign language

This entry word contains how to sign "grammar" in American Sign Language (ASL), "word order" phrase, some links to other words and grammar tutorials.

ASL sign for "grammar"

Meaning: the study of how words combine to form sentences; the study of words and their relations in the sentence.

Pronunciation (sign description): Both hands with the "G" handshape, palms facing each other where fingertips of index fingers are in contact, diverge apart while the hands move in a zigzag twist motion at the wrist.

Contrary to common ignorance, ASL and English are two different languages of their own. Both have their own grammar, vocabulary, and so on, like any other languages whether signed or spoken.

Phrase: word order

Meaning (word order): The sequence of words in a sentence, especially as governed by grammatical rules and as affecting meaning.

An example of the classifier use for 'word order' seen out in the wild. Watch the first part for "word order" before "not congruent..." (Video by E. Lynn Jacobowitz, 2017).

As ASL has its own grammar, thus differnet word order, sentence structure, and vocabulary, ASL sentences are different

Also see: WORD.



ASL Learning Tips

Learning vocabulary without grammar isn't learning a language. Learning ASL without its grammar is like studying German words without its German grammar and then trying speaking German with English grammar in it. Right, really bad.

When learning ASL words, keep learning grammar in parallel. The best way to acquire the language is to interact with Deaf fluent and native signers. Your best bet is to take an ASL course with a qualified Deaf ASL instructor, especially if you are studying ASL for your career as an interpreter or working with Deaf people.

Granted, grammar is hard or perhaps dry for some learners. It can be fun also, especially with a classifier system. Try listening ASL stories where learning grammar can be enjoyable. This site has several ones in the Learn section under the "literary arts" tab.

Learn more about ASL grammar.

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