The sign for "ask" has a couple of different versions.
starts as an index finger and changes into an "X" handshape as it moves
toward the person being asked.
Movement is forward. Starts in an "index" shape and ends in an "x"
he-ASK-me would start off to the side (or the direction of your referent
if established) and would move toward you. The palm is toward the person
who is being asked (in this case, you), so the palm would face the
signer (you) in the statement "he-ASK-me."
In a message dated 2/10/2012 1:11:51 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
lifeprint.com is a wonderful tool that's been helping me with ASL.
you so much for its content.
quick question for "ASK-to" sign. if signing "he-ASK-me", would you
still have the palm facing out (away) and bring the sign back to
yourself as you switch to the 'x' handshape? or do you face the palm
yourself and bring the sign towards yourself?
thank you again,
This sign is directional. You can do it in the direction of the person
whom is being asked.
Also see: ASK-TO
There is a more formal version of the sign for "ask." The more formal version is
good for such concepts as "request."
If you do the sign "REQUEST" a little smaller and use a double motion, it
can mean praying,or--with a plaintive facial expression--pleading. If
you do the sign REQUEST and hold it at the end while using a hopeful facial
express as you look at the other person this sign can be used as a quaint
way to sign the concept of "oh please do this for me."
Additional OPTIONAL reading:
In a message dated 8/19/2005 5:12:45 AM Pacific Daylight
When would you use 'ask' (two hands together) versus 'ask'
Let's call the two handed version "ASK" and the one-handed
The one handed version (ASK-to) is much more "directional." You
can inflect (change) the direction of the movement of the sign
and the palm orientation of the sign to establish who is the
subject and who is the object of your sentence.
I use the "two handed" ASK version in more formal situations and
occasionally as a noun. The two handed version is similar in
usage to the English word "request." "Request" can be used as a
noun or as a verb.
The ASK sign is less transitive than ASK-to. By transitive I
mean "referring to an object."
For example in the sentence, "Go ask your mom," the object is
"mom." You would sign, "ASK-to MOM" with one hand. You would do
the sign in the direction of the child's mother if she is
Compare that with the sentence "He has a request." This would
generally be signed "HE HAVE ASK." Or more likely, "HE WANT
FAVOR" or "HE WANT KNOW, YOU-MIND..."
By the way, if you wanted to sign, "He has a question," you
might use "HE HAVE QUESTION-MARK," (using the variation that
draws a question mark in the air).
In a message dated 8/24/2005 4:16:14 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
so in a sentence "he asked me
for money" would it be 2 hands, like a request? Or, "I asked him not to
go out" 2 hands? Or, " I'll ask him to stop at your house" Or "I asked
her to baby-sit"... I'm still not sure... does it matter? Is the 2
handed ask used less frequently? Sorry to be dense.
These are two different signs. Each has it's own meanings and usage.
I've actually seen the sign REQUEST used to mean "pretty please." For
example, "John" might ask Mary for a favor. Then as she is thinking about
it, John does the sign "request" and holds it with a pleading look on his
face. The sign REQUEST, when done with a double movement, actually means
"pray" or "plead with."
The sign ASK-TO is not used in that manner.
In the sentences you listed if you used the sign ASK-TO the meaning
would be "casual and straightforward." If you used the sign REQUEST
the meaning would be more serious, formal, or pleading.
Additionally, the sign REQUEST, when done at the end of a prayer can mean
"amen." ("REQUEST" is one of four popular ways to sign AMEN.)
ahh, the lightbulb is starting to
flicker - so if I said "when I go to work I will ask for time off" that
would be 2 hands? But if I said "the boys were wild so I asked them to
leave" it would be one hand?
Telling someone that you are going to seek time off work would
indeed lean toward using the sign REQUEST rather than the sign
ASK-TO. It could go either way though depending on the
relationship between the employee and the boss, the level of
confidence of the employee, the difficulty of the process of
asking (while passing in the hall or while sitting down in the
Now, your second sentence would actually use the sign "TOLD."
You are using a hearing euphemism. "I asked them to leave" is a
polite Hearing way of saying that you told them
to leave. In ASL we are more direct. You wouldn't inform your
friend that you asked two rowdy boys to leave. You'd inform
your friend that you told two rowdy boys to
leave. You did not really ask them did you?
You did not have your eyebrows up in a yes / no question
expression as you "asked them to leave." You did not wait at the
end of your sentence for them to reply "yes, no, or we'll think
about it." Instead you had your face in a stern facial
expression with tight lips and a furrowed brow and you told them
oh, wow... you've given me allot to
think about - it's really hard to think of those things when I'm signing to my
friend in conversational English... I'm concentrating on the signs rather than
the concept... of course she understands what I'm trying to say, but I wish I
could get it right. It's hard when I only spend an hour here or there with her,
every few days... thanks again for all the time you've taken to explain to me.
Quick question regarding the "ASK-to" sign. If I'm signing "he-ASK-me",
would I still have the palm facing out (away) and bring the sign back to
myself as I switch to the 'x' handshape? Or do I face the palm toward myself
and bring the sign towards myself?
For the sign "he-ASK-me" you always point the palm toward the person who is
being asked (in this case, you), so the palm would face the signer (you)
when making the statement "he-ASK-me." (He asked me.)
To do the sign
"he-ASK-me" you would start off to the side (or the direction of your
referent if established) with the palm facing yourself, and would move the
sign back toward your body as you change it from an "index" to an "x"-hand.
- Dr. Bill
In a message dated 7/7/2012, a 12-year-old from the east coast writes:
"I wanted to know the difference between the ASK sign and the sign for
ASK: Starts as a straight index finger that turns into an "X" as it moves
toward the person being asked.
NEED: Starts as an "X" and bends at the wrist.
- Dr. Bill