American Sign language (ASL) is growing in popularity and its the primary language of the Deaf and Hard of hearing in the USA. Its popularity has also expanded to other countries around the world. ASL is a natural language which means it has its own syntax grammar and vocabulary, exactly like spoken languages do.
It’s not only about using your hands to communicate a message, but it also includes the movement of your body and facial expressions. Learning the most common signs in ASL as well as the ASL alphabet is the first step towards communicating with the Deaf and Hard of hearing.
The Deaf appreciate it when hearing individuals take the time to learn sign language and use it to interact with the Deaf community. Get started with ASL by learning the most common American Sign Language signs such as hello, nice to meet you, yes, no, sorry and thank you and more. Before we begin it’s worth noting that the hand that you write with is known as the active hand and it’s sometimes also referred to as the dominant hand. The other hand is known as the passive or base hand.
American sign language for “hello”
This sign language can be used for “hello” and for “goodbye.”
Instructions: Stretch your active hand out to the upper side of your head, then move your fingers up and down.
American Sign language for “Nice to meet you”
Instructions: The first sign ‘nice’ is signed by placing your passive hand in front of you, palm up and moving the flat palm of your active hand across your passive hand.
The second sign which is ‘meet’ is signed with both hands up, palms facing each other, active hand close to your chest. The fingers represent two people that are meeting.
American Sign language for “Good morning”
Instructions: Raise the active hand towards your mouth and then move your arm upwards to form an L shape. Picture the horizon in front of you and the sun (your hand) is rising.
Note: this sign can also be used to say “I am good/well”.
AMERICAN sign language for “please”
Instructions: Place your active hand on your passive shoulder and rotate it a couple of times.
AMERICAN sign language for “thank you”
Instructions: Place your active palm towards your mouth, and move it back halfway down.
AMERICAN sign language for “you’re welcome”
Instructions: Move your active hand away from your body and towards your torso.
AMERICAN sign language for “sorry”
Instructions: Make a fist shape using your active hand and place it on your passive shoulder and rotate it a few times.
AMERICAN sign language for “help”
In sign language, you have two ways of saying “help,” either asking for help or to help someone.
Instructions: Both hands are joined for assistance (The lower hand seems to give assistance to the other hand). You close your active hand on the shape of a 10 resting on your passive hand opening your palm upwards. Then move your hands slightly upward in front of the chest.
Asking for help: Move both hands back to your chest.
Help someone: Move both hands towards the person you are signing to.
AMERICAN sign language for “no”
Instructions: Snap the first three fingers of your active hand once or twice.
AMERICAN sign language for “yes”
Instructions: Make a fist using your active hand and move it up and down as you are nodding your head in agreement.
AMERICAN sign language for “happy”, “glad”, or “delighted”
Instructions: Take your active hand and brush it in little circles up your chest a couple of times.
Learn more American Sign Language signs with our ASL online courses and learn to confidently communicate with Deaf and Hard of hearing.