THAT in sign language

How to sign "that" and phrases in American Sign Language (ASL)?


Definition: used to refer to a person, object, idea, etc. that is separated from the speaker by space or time; used to refer to something that has been mentioned or was involved earlier, or to something that is already known about.

Pronunciation (production): Dominant "Y" (handshape), palm generally down (orientation), in space (location), moves downward (movement).

Grammar: The THAT sign may be inflected with the subject-determiner agreement.

Pronunciation (production): Dominant "Y" (handshape), palm generally down (orientation), moves downward (movement) onto the non-dominant flat-B with palm up (location).

Formal citation; the passive palm in this ASL sign is not frequently used, usually signing THAT without the passive hand. Signing THAT with the passive palm may be used in some circumstances. E.g. "IX-he TOLD ME THAT [emphasis]..." Or, "THAT's WHY".

Basic grammar

In English, two determiners "this" and "that" are used depending on the referents in a sentence, while the determiner in ASL is locative in specific to a referent.

Meaning: that (determiner).

This signed determiner "that" can be a general locative or a locative-specific agreement in a sentence.

The ASL sign/word THAT can be locally inflected in agreement with the subject or object.

Beyond basics

The gloss for this sign is usually noted as "THAT-ONE" or "THAT-IX". A link to the post explaining this usage and complex explanation will be added shortly.

Phrase: THAT!

In Deaf ASL-speaking culture, "THAT!" is often used by fluent and native Deaf signers.

Meaning: That!

It may be used at the end of a sentence or within a paragraph after something is explained or clarified. That!

In other contexts, the plural signword "THAT+++!" is used to convey something like "yes, exactly!", "yes, that's the whole point!", "yes, exactly that!" and such.

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.