Vocabulary review for:

YES in sign language

This word entry contains ASL signs for "yes" and variants, kid signing "yes" from baby to preschool age in real-world contexts, and related links.

ASL sign for YES
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ASL signs for YES

How do you say 'yes' in American Sign Language?

Meaning: Used to give a positive answer or reply to a question, request, or offer; used to give an affirmative response.

Pronunciation: Dominant fist or "S" hand bobbing down twice at wrist, resembling a head nodding.

Among native/Deaf signers, as with other ASL signs, there are nuances of meaning for this regular 'yes' sign with just different movements along with intonation (e.g. facial expression).

For beginners, it's good to start with this 'yes' sign.

Variants of affirmative responses

While 'yes' sign is one of some basic vocabulary in everyday conversations, there are different signs or some interjections of affirmative responses that Deaf signers use other than the 'yes' sign above. They are not not something one can use in any contexts. For beginners, observe how they use these in specific contexts in natural conversations.

Semantic variation. Lexicalized fingerspelling / fingerspelled loanword.

Used often with emphasis in specific contexts, excitement (repeated "YES+++"), or such specific tones.

One of some variations for "yep" or "yup".

Related signs: NOPE.

Nodding

Nodding is is a commonly used interjection, variously used to express agreement, to make an acknowledgment to encourage to continue speaking, or to indicate a lack of interest or enthusiasm. It's generally to say "mm-hmm", "okay", "yeah" or simply a "mm-hmm' cue of active listening.

A common nod means 'yes'. Other kinds of nods can convey subtle different meanings of affirmative expressions from one acknowledging to "I'm listening."

As for the "I'm listening" nods, it's used by a listener to let the talking signer know that the listener is paying attention. If a beginner hearing signer looks plain or frozen, the Deaf signer probably would rephrase, repeat, or begin to sign slower, or ask, "Understand?" Nodding is not the only thing, but fluent Deaf signers use other non-interrupting responses too.

Kid signing "yes" and nodding

The time-lapse video shows how the bilingual ASL-speaking baby acquired the concept of "yes" and used it. How she had evolved from "yes" to nodding. And how she discovered language play with it at the end of video. Can you do the same fun challenge she played?

In the video at age 1;2, the capture of this moment is a good example of peripheral vision of the native-signing mother when the baby produced "yes" while the mother dropped the book on the table. It took a moment for her to realize what the baby uttered. It all happened in milliseconds, just hearing people are able to detect finest movements of sounds in milliseconds.

At around age 1;9, the toddler was introduced to use "yes" in contexts. She also used other ways of expressing, such as "please" and nodding in her own ways.

At age 2;7, the preschooler persuaded her mother to give her several candies. Just four, she thought it was just a few, but it was too many for the mother. She bargained, just one. :D

At age 3;5, she discovered a language play in ASL when she teased her mother "yes at the same time no". Plus, shaking head -- all three in one. :D

Related signs

Synonyms: YEAH, SURE, ALL-RIGHT, UH-HUH.

Opposite: NO with a little hypothetical question posed by nine-year-old bilingual ASL-speaking kid about why the ASL signs "yes" and "no" don't have the same origin of reason. Kids say the darnedest things!

Review 101 words. Refresher.

  1. about
  2. after
  3. again
  4. age
  5. alone
  6. always
  7. and
  8. animal
  9. answer
  10. ask
  11. ask away
  12. ASL - American Sign Language
  13. bad
  14. bathroom, washroom
  15. beard
  16. beautiful
  17. before
  18. begin
  19. big
  20. black
  21. blue
  22. book
  23. born
  24. both
  25. boy
  26. brother
  27. brown
  28. bunch
  29. but
  30. buy
  31. bye-bye, so-long
  32. can
  33. car
  34. cat
  35. chair
  36. change
  37. child, children
  38. city
  39. class
  40. clear
  41. cloth, garment
  42. coffee
  43. cold
  44. college
  45. color
  46. come
  47. copy
  48. correct
  49. count
  50. country
  51. cup
  52. dance
  53. day to day, day after day
  54. dead, death
  55. deaf
  56. different
  57. dog
  58. done
  59. door
  60. drawing
  61. dress
  62. drink
  63. duty
  64. easy
  65. eight (8)
  66. eighteen (18)
  67. eleven
  68. English
  69. enjoy
  70. everyday
  71. example
  72. excited
  73. eyeglasses
  74. fall in love
  75. family
  76. fast
  77. father
  78. few
  79. fifteen (15)
  80. find
  81. fine
  82. fingerspell
  83. finish
  84. fish
  85. fishing
  86. five (5)
  87. floor
  88. follow
  89. food
  90. for
  91. forget
  92. four
  93. fourteen
  94. French
  95. Friday
  96. friend
  97. from
  98. game
  99. Germany
  100. get
  101. girl
  102. give
  103. go
  104. good
  105. goodbye
  106. grandfather
  107. grandmother
  108. gray, grey
  109. green
  110. group
  111. grow
  112. hair
  113. happy
  114. hard
  115. hard of hearing
  116. hat
  117. have
  118. he
  119. hearing
  120. hello
  121. help
  122. hide
  123. high
  124. high school
  125. holiday
  126. home
  127. homework
  128. hot
  129. hour
  130. house
  131. how
  132. how much
  133. idea
  134. if
  135. Internet
  136. jacket
  137. jot
  138. jump
  139. keep
  140. know
  141. language
  142. last
  143. late
  144. later
  145. learn
  146. left-handed
  147. letter
  148. like (feeling)
  149. like (similar)
  150. little
  151. live
  152. long
  153. look
  154. look at
  155. look for
  156. look like
  157. lose, be defeated
  158. lose, loss
  159. love
  160. love it
  161. low
  162. make
  163. man
  164. many
  165. maybe
  166. mean, meaning
  167. meet
  168. midweek
  169. milk
  170. minus
  171. minute
  172. money
  173. month
  174. more
  175. morning
  176. most
  177. mother
  178. move
  179. movie
  180. much
  181. must
  182. my
  183. name
  184. near
  185. need
  186. never
  187. new
  188. next
  189. night
  190. nine (9)
  191. no
  192. not
  193. nothing
  194. now
  195. number
  196. office
  197. offspring
  198. often
  199. ok, okay
  200. old
  201. on
  202. one
  203. open
  204. opposite
  205. orange
  206. other
  207. overnight
  208. pants, trousers, slacks
  209. paper
  210. parent
  211. pay attention
  212. pen
  213. people
  214. person
  215. picture
  216. pink
  217. pizza
  218. play
  219. please
  220. pointless
  221. pop
  222. practice
  223. pretty
  224. purple
  225. question
  226. rabbit
  227. read
  228. ready
  229. receive
  230. receptive
  231. red
  232. remember
  233. right
  234. room
  235. roommate, roomie
  236. Sabbath
  237. same
  238. Saturday
  239. say
  240. scheme
  241. school
  242. see
  243. sentence
  244. seven (7)
  245. seventeen
  246. shape
  247. she
  248. shirt
  249. shoe
  250. should
  251. show
  252. sick
  253. sign language
  254. sign, signed word
  255. since
  256. sister
  257. sit
  258. six (6)
  259. sixteen (16)
  260. slow
  261. small
  262. some
  263. sometimes
  264. soon
  265. sorry
  266. Spanish
  267. stand
  268. start
  269. stay
  270. still
  271. stop
  272. store
  273. story
  274. student
  275. study
  276. subtitle
  277. subtract
  278. success, successful
  279. sun
  280. Sunday
  281. sure
  282. table
  283. take
  284. talk
  285. tea
  286. teach
  287. teacher
  288. team
  289. tell
  290. ten
  291. test
  292. thank, thank you
  293. that
  294. their
  295. they
  296. think
  297. thirteen (13)
  298. three
  299. throw
  300. tired
  301. today
  302. tomorrow
  303. too
  304. travel
  305. try
  306. Tuesday
  307. twelve (12)
  308. two
  309. understand
  310. university
  311. use
  312. vacation
  313. very
  314. visit
  315. voice
  316. wait
  317. walk
  318. want
  319. warm
  320. watch
  321. water
  322. wedding
  323. Wednesday
  324. week
  325. weekday
  326. what
  327. when
  328. where
  329. which
  330. white
  331. who
  332. why
  333. will
  334. win
  335. window
  336. with
  337. woman
  338. word
  339. work
  340. write
  341. write down
  342. writing
  343. wrong
  344. yellow
  345. yes
  346. yesterday
  347. you
  348. your