IF in sign language

Definition: Introducing a conditional clause; used to talk about the imaginary result or effect of something that may happen or be true; used to say that something must happen before another thing can happen

ASL signs for "if"

How to sign "if" in American Sign Language (ASL)? There are three common ASL words or signs which are interchangeable in most cases, not always.

Fingerspelling loan. One movement.

Usage example: "If she was feeling sick, it's good that she went home" -> ASL glossed as "IF TRUE+WORK IX1 SICK, GOOD THING IX1 GO(var) HOME".

Fingerspelling loan. The movement may be once, twice, or multiple (wiggling fingers), depending on the contexts.

Usage example: "If you study hard, you will pass your test", ""

Variation; also "SUPPOSE".

Usage example: "If I were rich, I'd buy you a diamond ring".

This old ASL sign appears to be less used, if not obsolete, these days than the other variations above.

Learner Tip: Not to confuse this with the ASL homophone COURT.


How do you say "if I were you"?

Meaning: used when giving advice or guidance about what you would do in the same situation as the other person -- as in I would do it if I were you.

Glossed as IF + YOU-ME-REVERSED.

Similar: "in your situation, I would".

But, how would you say "if he/she were something else"?

Example: "If he were a woman, he would still be a vigorous leader". In ASL, you can say "IF SELF" in the proper pronominal space.


You can do a fun activity, practicing ASL vocabulary and grammar with the phrase "if I were".

Do exercises: 1) If you were a bird, what would you do? Not just one thing, name as many things as you can think of. 2) If I were rich (if you're poor) or poor (if you're rich), I would... 3) If I were young again, I would...

Be careful what you wish for.

Synonyms: SUPPOSE, as long as, in the event that.

Opposite: UNLESS.

First 100 words.

  1. again
  2. also
  3. ask
  4. bad
  5. boy
  6. but
  7. can
  8. come
  9. deaf
  10. different
  11. drink
  12. drive
  13. eat
  14. email
  15. excuse
  16. family
  17. feel
  18. few
  19. find
  20. fine
  21. fingerspell
  22. finish
  23. food
  24. for
  25. forget
  26. friend
  27. get
  28. girl
  29. give
  30. go
  31. good
  32. have, has, had
  33. he
  34. hearing
  35. hello
  36. help
  37. home
  38. how
  39. Internet
  40. know
  41. later
  42. like (feeling)
  43. little
  44. live
  45. man
  46. many
  47. me
  48. meet
  49. more
  50. my
  51. name
  52. need
  53. new
  54. no
  55. not
  56. now
  57. ok, okay
  58. old
  59. other
  60. please
  61. remember
  62. same
  63. say
  64. school
  65. see
  66. she
  67. should
  68. sign, signed word
  69. slow
  70. some
  71. sorry
  72. store
  73. take
  74. tell
  75. text, sms
  76. thank, thank you
  77. their
  78. they
  79. think
  80. time
  81. tired
  82. try
  83. understand
  84. use
  85. wait
  86. want
  87. what
  88. when
  89. where
  90. which
  91. who
  92. why
  93. will
  94. with
  95. woman
  96. work
  97. write
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.