American Sign Language: Declarative Sentences in ASL

Learners of American Sign Language seem to have a difficult time understanding the structure of ASL.  For the next couple of posts, I will be discussing each type of sentence structure known to American Sign Language.  Then, I will give you a quiz to see how well you do at the end of each posting.

First of all, not everyone using American Sign Language signs “Pure” ASL.  Usually, deaf and hearing people alike will sign some version of ASL and Pidgin Signed English (PSE), which is using American Sign Language, but in English word order.  As a note, remember, ASL does not use words like, “be”, “am”, “or”, etc.  That would be more of a Signed English version of sign language.

Now, that leads us to our first sentence structure, “Declarative Sentences”.  A declarative sentence simply tells a statement, or makes a declaration.

There are a few ways to sign words in ASL.  One of the most important things to remember when learning American Sign Language is that every person will sign differently.  Here is a simple declarative sentence used in ASL:

 

  1.  Subject (Who or what)?
  2.  Verb (predicate)
  3.  Object

So, now you have the simple declarative statement structure in ASL (SVO).

Example of a declarative sentence in English and in ASL:

English:  Paul bought a car.

ASL:               Subject = Paul             Verb = Bought           Object = Car

Complete ASL Declarative Sentence:  Paul bought car

 

English:  The cup fell on the floor.

ASL:  Subject = Cup                Verb = Fell.                Object = Floor

Complete ASL Declarative Sentence:  Cup fall floor

 

English:  The store closes at 9:00 p.m.

ASL:  Subject = Store                        Verb = Close     Object (Time) = 9:00 night

Complete ASL Declarative Sentence:  Store close (time) 9:00 night

Now, are you ready for your quiz?

 

On ASLdeafined.com, we have ASL grammar exercises that help you understand the structure of American Sign Language.  If you have not seen these activities, please sign in and try them out for yourself.  (By the way, the answer for the quiz is:  “C”)