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American Sign Language:  "Common ASL Sentence types"



Sentence type:  "Wh" questions (whq)

Nonmanual marker:  The eyebrows are furrowed a bit (squeezed somewhat together) and the head moved slightly forward.
It is common to put the "WH"-type sign at the end of the question thus avoiding the need to maintain a furrowed brow throughout the whole sentence.
Example: YOU LEARN SIGN, WHERE?
If the sentence is very short (around 3 signs or fewer) it is not as important to put the "WH"-sign at the end and it is okay to put the "WH"-sign either the end or at the front.
Example:  WHO INDEX-"he"?  ("Who is that guy?") 
Example:  INDEX-"he" WHO?  ("Who is that guy?") 
In the above examples using INDEX-"he", it would also be good to use eye-gaze (a glance in the direction of the person being referenced) to help indicate to whom you are referring.

Sentence type:  YES or NO" answer questions (y/n)

Nonmanual marker:  The eyebrows are raised a bit and the head slightly tilted forward.

Example:  YOU GO? (Are you going?)

Sentence type:  Declarative sentences (several types)

Affirmative Declarative sentences:
Sign with a nodding of the head.
Example:  "I WILL." (I'll do it.)

Negative Declarative sentences:
Sign with a shaking of the head.
Example:  "I can't."
 

Neutral Declarative sentences:

Nonmanual marker:  Use a neutral head position and little or no shaking or nodding.

Example:  INDEX-"I/me" GO STORE. ("I'm going to the store.")

Sentence type:  Conditional sentences.  (if/then statements)
Raise your eyebrows during the "if" part of the sentence, then use a declarative nod for the "then" part of the sentence.
Example:  TOMORROW RAIN?  GAME CANCEL.  (If it rains tomorrow, we will cancel the game.)
 

Sentence type:  Rhetorical Questions (rhet)
To use a rhetorical question, make a statement using neutral expressions, then ask a "wh"-type of question--but instead of having your eyebrows down--raise your eyebrows during the "wh" sign. Then answer your own question using either a head nod or a head shake depending on whether your answer is declarative or negative.
Example: INDEX-(he) FAIL CLASS, WHY? STUDY-(neg) (He failed class because he didn't study.) 
(For more information, see: "Rhetorical Questions ►")

 


 

Sentence type:  Topicalized:

Topicalized Whq question:
Raise your eyebrows while establishing the topic.  Then lower your eyebrows to ask the "Wh"-type question:
CAR FRONT?  WHO? [Explanation:  Whose car is that out front?]

 

Sentence type: Topicalized statement
Sign the topic with your eyebrows raised, then make a declarative statement.
CAR FRONT?  MY.  (That car out front is mine.)


 

Mini quiz:

 

1. What type of sentence is it when you sign with the eyebrows squeezed somewhat together and the head slightly tilted forward?
a. a. "whq" or a "Wh"-question
b. "q" or a "YES/NO" question
c. declarative statement
d. "if" - a conditional sentence

2. What type of question are you asking when you sign a sentence with the eyebrows raised a bit and the head slightly tilted forward? (Just a simple sentence, not two clauses joined together).
a. "whq" or a "Wh"-question
b. "q" or a "YES/NO" question
c. declarative statement
d. "if" - a conditional sentence

3. What type of sentences should be accompanied by head nodding?
a. "FOR ME" sentences
b. Sentences without "BE" verbs
c. Simple affirmative sentences
d. Questions which ask for a "yes" or "no" answer

4. What type of sentences should be accompanied by head shaking?
a. "YOU MIND" sentences
b. Sentences about hearing people
c. Questions which ask for a "yes" or "no" answer
d. Simple negative sentences
 

Answers:
1. a. "whq" or a "Wh"-question
2. b. "q" or a "YES/NO" question
3. c. Simple affirmative sentences
4. d. Simple negative sentences


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