Lesson: writing your first ASL sentences

In this ASL writing lesson, you will learn how to recognize symbols and their meanings in ASL writing (si5s); to write your first two sentences; and to read aloud other partner's two sentences in ASL (if you have a partner doing this lesson).

First, look at the basic ASL sentence below:

A note for instructors: I don't introduce a symbol (digit) of the ASL pronoun until later.

You may be overwhelmed at first. Don't worry. It's much easier than your first impression. You will find that it makes sense to you.


See the instructor explaining the meaning of these symbols and some information on this ASL writing. In summary, a perspective of written materials in ASL is of the signer’s perspective, not a listener. It’s the same way a writer scribes from the author’s voice. That is, an ASL-speaking person reads written ASL from the author’s voice (expression).

I introduced the terms, “digibet” (an equivalent to alphabet) and digits (an equivalent to alphabetical letters) which consist of over 50 handshape symbols, a set of movement symbols, and locative symbols. I explained each meaning of these symbols shown in a sentence above (which will be illustrated in presentation). Again, I asked how easy it was. Students found them relatively easier than they initially thought. And it made sense to them.

ASL sentence

First read two basic ASL sentences above.

In the first sentence, you may recognize the first symbol as you just previously learned. Some of you may recognize the second symbol (if you already know some basic ASL vocabulary in the "spoken" form). It's NAME (verb). The third part in this sentence is a fingerspelled name: JOLANTA.

That is, in gloss: IX-me NAME fs-JOLANTA. IX-me KISSFIST fs-ASL.

Now try and write down your first sentences as follows: “IX-me NAME [fill in your first name]. Writing your name digit by digit (handshape by handshape), using the digibet (kind of ASL alphabet) below that corresponded to the alphabetical letters. Because you either may not have a signed name or you may not have learned how to write ASL symbols for your signed name.

ASL digibet

Next, write the second sentence: IX-me KISSFIST [fill in one word].” Pick one from the written ASL vocabulary in the submenu above.

Once you are done, you and your partner can switch each other's piece of writing. Read and decipher them, especially the fingerspelled part of a name. Also, read aloud in ASL.

Done! If it's your first ASL sentences, congratulations!

Learn how to write ASL numbers.