HOW in sign language

This entry shows you how to say "how" and variations in sign language (ASL) as well as how to sign the common greeting question, "how are you?" and how the ASL-speaking toddler acquires the sign. Plus, a tip on how to learn sign language.

ASL signs for HOW

There are several signs; a few of them were used in the old times.

Definition: In what way or manner; by what means; used to ask about the condition or quality of something.

Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant "10" handshape (palm orientation facing left) twisting once while in contact with passive "10" handshape.

Usage examples in contexts (note that these English sentences are not ASL; they only give examples of contexts): "How do you know?", "How are you?".

Variation.

Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant "10" handshape (palm orientation facing left) twisting twice while in contact with passive "10" handshape.

Usage examples: "How did she/he know?!" as in how did they find out? translated/glossed as "IX KNOW HOW?!", "How does it work?" translated/glossed as "IX WORK HOW\/" (where the symbol \/ represents burrowed eyebrows for wh-questions).

"How are you?" sentence

For the common English greeting question, "how are you?", watch the ASL translation below:

As you might notice, there is no "ARE" in it as ASL has its own grammar and determiners. Remember ASL is not signed English. It's its own language.

Toddler signing "how"

In general, toddlers answers simple "where" questions at age 1-2 by looking, choosing, or pointing to something. At age 2-3 years, toddlers ask simple "what" and "where" questions. Then, they use "how" at age 2-3 years.

"HOW" variations

Old variation; still used today in the 21st century but less used.

Pronunciation/articulation: The tip of the dominant "15" handshape twisting while in contact with the tip of the passive "15" handshape.

Another old variation; still used today in the 21st century but less used.

Pronunciation/articulation: Both 15-handshape (palm orientation facing signer) hands in contact twisting forward.


Related signs: how many, how much.

Other WH-questions: WHAT, WHICH, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHO.


Sentence example: HOW YOU? for "How are you?"

Deaf/Sign Language History

This sign was seen signing by George Veditz in his 1913 film, "The Preservation of American Sign Language".

Clearly, it has been used for a very long time! But, it has become less commonly used than the other ones since the 1980s. Apparently, this original sign has evolved into the modern form.

Usage/Grammar

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Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

ASL writing for HOW

In si5s writing system.

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If you cannot find (perhaps overlook) a word but you can still see a list of links, then keep looking until the links disappear! Sharpening your eye or maybe refine your alphabetical index skill. :)

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ASL has its own grammar and structure in sentences that works differently from English. For plurals, verb inflections, word order, etc., learn grammar in the "ASL Learn" section. For search in the dictionary, use the present-time verbs and base words. If you look for "said", look up the word "say". Likewise, if you look for an adjective word, try the noun or vice versa. E.g. The ASL signs for French and France are the same. If you look for a plural word, use a singular word.