PLEASE in sign language

In this word entry, learn how to sign 'please' and variants. And watch a short video how the baby utters the magical word to get something she wishes.

Drawing of PLEASE
How do you sign PLEASE?

ASL signs for "please"

How do you say 'please' in ASL (American Sign Language)?

Meaning: Used as a polite addition to requests, commands, etc.; kindly.

Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant horizontal flat hand (handshape), palm in (orientation) on the chest (location), moves in a circular motion -- forward, not backward from the signer's perspective -- clockwise motion(?).

Learner tip: Not to confuse this ASL sign with "PLEASED" or 'PLEASURE" in contexts.

More common ASL signs: THANK-YOU, WELCOME, excuse me, SORRY.

Baby signing "please" in ASL

See how the ASL-speaking baby acquired the ASL word "please" and its variants in contexts and how the phonological structure developed in a time-lapse video. Note that it's not "baby sign language" which is an unacceptable cultural appropriation along with a number of misconceptions and myths. It's no more illusion than "baby speech language".*

At about age 1;3, this baby in the video above acquired the concept "please" in ASL during the one-word stage of language development. During this similar time frame, she also picked up the new word "sorry".

At age 1;9 in the video clip, the baby referred to the family video album which she wanted to watch the video clips of herself (good-bye to the dear ol' photo albums).

At age 2;1, she signed "please" before "hot chocolate". It's very subtle that can be very easily overlooked.

The toddler sometimes signed with the opposite hand. During the first 2 years, it's not unusual that toddlers sometimes sign with the other hand until the dominant hand become in stone.

* Studies in neuroscience and linguistics including first-language acquisition in signed languages show that sign language is on a par with speech language. That is, as neuroscientist Dr. Petitto noted, language is amodal.

Slang and colloquialisms

If you want something or request for something so badly that you'd want to really beg, beg, beg to convince your buddy or little brother or older sister, you probably use a slang, bringing two flat hands together (the similar sign as "pray") with the mouthing "ppp". Get the picture? :)

Or, you'd probably say "please" with kind of a demand or a command. The movement of the ASL sign "please" is inflected to more of a brief non-circular motion and firm facial expression. You'd probably find this with a Deaf parent making a firm request of a stubborn child to do something. I suppose it's similar with the vocal tone in the hearing world, right? In disguise, it's a parental beg, ha. Not really. :)

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.