The sign for "know" touches the side of your forehead with
the tips of the fingers of your hand in a flat shape.
Sample sentence: Do you know the teacher's wife's name?
It is very common for the sign for "KNOW" to be done on the cheek.
Some people call it
I think a better word for it would be casual signing. Or perhaps even efficient
signing. It is a perfectly fine way to sign the concept.
KNOW: (casual version)
If you want to sign, "knowledge," "familiar," or "I'm aware of that" you use
a double movement. Touch the forehead (or cheek) twice. See:
FAMILIAR-with:/ aware of:
To sign "know that" you use a very quick downward movement and change the
handshape into a rather loose "Y" (or even a "flat-hand").
The sign "don't know" uses a movement similar to "know that." The difference
is that DON'T KNOW keeps the "B" (or "flat") handshape and tends to raise the
shoulders and use a head shake.
Here I'm showing a "casual" version of the sign. Note how it starts on
or near the cheek (instead of the forehead) and twists forward.
If you have Windows media player, you might be able to view this .wmv file:
Notes and Optional Reading:
In a message dated 2/21/____ 12:13:53 PM Pacific Standard Time,
My name is Leann and I have always been interested is sign
language. my current mission is trying to learn and teach to my
boys too. I do have a bit of help from a deaf family that I know
and library books are good too. My 4 year old loves signing and
I want him to learn all he can and we are teaching the baby too.
Being able to communicate within the deaf community is a
wonderful feeling. They are so patient with us when we try to
sign. I am still a bit slow but will get it in due time with
Could you possibly explain how to sign " I don't know" like when
my son asks me something and I need to sign to him I don't know.
I have seen it done a couple of ways and was wondering what is
actually used in the Deaf community. I have seen it done by the
thumb of the "a" hand flicking out from under the chin and the
other way is the "I" sign up against your chest and then you
touch the tip of your fingers to your forehead, then move your
hand outward.....not sure if I explained that very well. my
friend that I was talking about earlier said the forehead one is
like the slang version of 'I do not know'. Curious what your
thoughts might be on this. I like to compare as many resources
as I can to be more accurate.
Scroll down to the bottom where you will see the sign "don't know."
A few notes: The sign you are referring to that uses the thumb under
the chin can be interpreted as "not."
The sign that touches the tips of the fingers to the forehead can be
interpreted as "know."
ASL grammar allows certain signs such as LIKE, WANT, and KNOW to
incorporate a principle called "reversal of orientation for negation."
Additionally, the sign for KNOW is often done on the cheek rather than
the forehead. Signs tend to evolve into more simple, arbitrary forms
and doing the sign KNOW on the cheek instead of the forehead is a a way
to reduce the overall movement of the sign thus making it simpler to
The letter "I" held to your chest is a "Signed English" version of that
concept. In ASL we tend to simply point at our chest to me either "I"
or "me." Often the sign "I / me" is not necessary since the concept can
be incorporated into the starting or ending location of other signs,
If my child were to ask me a question to which I didn't know the answer
I would simply sign "don't-KNOW" using the version of the sign KNOW that
touches the cheek and twists outward. There would be no need for me to
sign "I / me" because obviously I'm speaking about myself. There would
be no need to use the sign NOT because the reversal of the orientation
of the sign KNOW would inflect the sign to mean "don't know."