Free Online Sign Language Lessons (ASL)

ASL 2 – Unit 1

Sentence Types

In this unit of the online sign language lessons, you will be learning more sentence types.

Materials you will need for the class

  1. ASL 2 WORKBOOK (PDF) (Required & Free) – You will use the workbook for the class assignments and activities.

  2. ASL Dictionary (Required) – By now, you should own an ASL dictionary. The lessons will include lists of vocabulary that will be used in the units, and you will need to look these up in your printed ASL dictionary, or on one of the many ASL dictionary websites.

  3. A Webcam/Video camera (Required) – In this class, you will be completing expression assignments by recording your signing. Don’t be shy! Since you are learning sign language online, this is a great way to make sure you are on the right track!

  4. The Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! Student Guides – Readings are assigned from these books throughout the Start ASL curriculum for further learning and more in-depth studies. We highly recommend these books for every ASL student. These guides not only cover all of the essential information about ASL and Deaf Culture you will need for your ASL journey, but the ASL grammar book is the only book for students completely dedicated to ASL grammar. You will be able to learn how to successfully and accurately sign in ASL right from the beginning–something most ASL students don’t get to do!

  5. ASL 1, 2, & 3 – Paid Online Version (Optional) – We also offer paid versions of these online classes. With the paid versions, you get access to all the Start ASL lessons and activities in a more organized and easy-to-follow format, with no advertisements, the ability to watch the videos in slower motion, a forum and live chatroom, the option to submit assignments for viewing and commenting by other students, and a completion certificate. We highly recommend this option for serious students who want to form a community of active learners and learn ASL together.

  6. ASL 2 Class – Offline Version (Optional) – The Start ASL online classes are available as an instant download. This one file contains all of the video lessons in one professional-style video as well as the lessons and workbook. Only one download and you will have full access to the ASL 2 class on your computer without an internet connection. We highly recommend this if you need access to the class offline, need to download the videos all at once, want to watch the videos in slower motion, or don’t like the advertisements in the lessons!

Vocabulary

BREAKFAST
BUY
CANCEL
CHEAP
CLASS
DINNER
DRAW
DRAWING
EARLY
EAT
FINALLY
FIND
GAME
HOW
HUNGRY
KEY
LEAVE
LUNCH
MILK
PASS
RAIN
SICK
STUDY

Conversation

Read this outline, and then watch the conversation in action on the video clip. Try to recognize what is being said. Watch the video again until you can follow the conversation without the outline.

A: (get-attention) TOMORROW I GO PICK-up BOOK NEW I BUY YOU DON’T-MIND I BORROW YOUR TRUCK?
“Tomorrow I’m going to pick up some new books I just bought. Do you mind if I borrow your truck?”

B: TOMORROW TIME WHAT?
“What time tomorrow?”

A: AROUND 10 “give-or-take”
“Maybe around 10.”

B: NO NOT WORK MY TRUCK me-BRING MECHANIC FIX TOMORROW MORNING. TOMORROW AFTERNOON BETTER.
“No, that won’t work, I need to take the truck to get serviced tomorrow morning. The afternoon would work better.”

A: FINE. YOU 2 TOMORROW FINE?
“That’s fine. Would 2 work for you?”

B: SURE-SURE FINE.
“Yes, that works fine.”

Conversation Explained

A: (get-attention) TOMORROW I GO PICK-up BOOK NEW I BUY YOU DON’T-MIND I BORROW YOUR TRUCK?
“Tomorrow I’m going to pick up some new books I just bought. Do you mind if I borrow your truck?”

The two most common ways to get someone’s attention in the Deaf community are (1) Wave your hand in the person’s train of vision or (2) Tap the person on the shoulder. In this conversation, Deborah waves her hand in Mark’s train of vision to get his attention.

B: NO NOT WORK MY TRUCK me-BRING MECHANIC FIX TOMORROW MORNING. TOMORROW AFTERNOON BETTER.
“No, that won’t work, I need to take the truck to get serviced tomorrow morning. The afternoon would work better.”

In this sentence, the sign Mark uses for WORK ((2h)5(claw)”coming together”) refers to something working out. In this case, it refers to plans working out. However, since he added NOT before the sign, he is saying that plan won’t work out.

Sentence Types

There are a few different sentence types in ASL. These sentence types are not the same as word order. Word order shows the order in which you can sign your words. Sentence types show how to use word order along with non-manual markers to form certain types of sentences.

Topicalization

When you use the “object” part of the sentence as the topic of the sentence (OSV word order), this is called topicalization. The facial expression used for the “object” part of the sentence differs from the rest of the sentence. This creates a “passive voice” instead of the “active voice” that is used with SVO structure.

Topicalized Statements (t)

Non-Manual Markers:

  • Raise your eyebrows for the “topic” part of the sentence
  • Then make a neutral, affirmative, or negative declarative statement for the “comment” part of the sentence

Examples:

  1. (MY DAD)t), (THAT MAN)aff)
    (“That man is my dad”)
  2. (FATHER)t), (MOTHER LOVE)aff)
    (“Mother loves father”)
  3. (THAT KEY)t), I (FINALLY)”pah”) FIND
    (“I finally found that key”)
  4. (THAT DRAWING)t), (I DRAW)aff)
    (“I drew that drawing”)

Topicalized “Wh” Questions (t-whq)

Non-Manual Markers:

  • Raise your eyebrows for the “topic” part of the sentence
  • Then lower your eyebrows to ask the “Wh” question

Examples:

  1. (THAT GIRL)t), (WHO?)whq)
    (“Who is that girl?”)
  2. (THAT DRAWING)t), (WHAT?)whq)
    (“What is that a drawing of?”)
  3. (TWO-OF-US LEAVE EARLY)t), (HOW?)whq)
    (“How are we going to leave early?”)

Rhetorical Questions (rhq)

Rhetorical questions are not actual questions–a response is not expected. After asking the rhetorical question, you would immediately give the answer and other information. Rhetorical questions are used often with “why” questions in place of the word “because”.

Non-Manual Markers:

  • Make a statement using a neutral expression
  • Ask a “wh” question with your eyebrows raised during the “wh” word
  • Answer your own question with a neutral, affirmative, or negative expression

Examples:

  1. I HUNGRY, (WHY?)rhq) (EAT LUNCH NOT)neg)
    (“I’m hungry. Why? I didn’t eat lunch”)(“I’m hungry because I didn’t eat lunch”)
  2. THAT WOMAN, (WHO?)rhq) (MY MOM)aff)
    (“Who is that woman? My mom”)(“That woman is my mom”)
  3. I PASS CLASS, (HOW?)rhq) (I STUDY)aff)
    (“I passed the class. How? I studied”)(“I passed the class because I studied”)

Conditional Sentences (cond)

Conditional sentences follow an if/then structure where the non-manual markers for the “if” part of the sentence differ from the ones for the “then” part of the sentence.

The signs SUPPOSE, IF, and #IF are also commonly used with the conditional facial expressions to mark the beginning of conditional statements.

Non-Manual Markers:

  • Raise your eyebrows during the “if” part of the sentence
  • Then make a question or declarative statement for the “then” part of the sentence

Examples:

  1. (TODAY RAIN)cond), (GAME CANCEL)aff)
    (“If it rains today, the game will be cancelled”)
  2. (TODAY RAIN)cond), (YOU LEAVE YOU?)y/n)
    (“If it rains today, are you going to leave?”)
  3. (TODAY RAIN)cond), (WHERE)whq) YOU GO (WHERE?)whq)
    (“If it rains today, where will you go?”)
  4. (MILK CHEAP)cond), (I BUY)aff)
    (“If the milk is cheap, I will buy it”)
  5. (I SICK)cond), (LEAVE EARLY)aff)
    (“If I’m sick, I will leave early”)

Sentence Types Examples

In the video clip below, Christine will demonstrate each sentence type:

Practice these different non-manual behaviors in a mirror.

Sentence Type Practice 1.1

Turn to page 3 in your workbook. In the video below, Christine will sign 10 sentences. Determine whether the sentence is a topicalized, conditional, or rhetorical sentence. Circle the correct answer. The first one has been done for you.

When you’re finished, check your answers in the back of the workbook. Go back and review the questions you missed. Make sure you understand the differences in facial expressions for each type of sentence before moving on. Then, go back and sign each sentence for practice.

Reading Assignment

In DJSC! A Student’s Guide to Mastering ASL Grammar, read Chapter 6 (ASL Syntax), Section 6.2. (Sentence Types). This section explains and demonstrates all of the different ASL sentence types. This will be a good review of what you learned in ASL 1 as well as what you learned in this section. This way, you can take a look at all of the different types together so you will know and understand all of the ASL sentence types you have to choose from.

Comments

  1. Barbara Lyons

    the test for me was easy, once I slowed it down. Had to repeat a couple of them, but I scored a 100. My question is
    is there somewhere we can go to get the answers and to see what she actually signed to know if we were correct in reading her sign?

    1. Michelle Jay

      Hi Barbara, Depending on the video, it may be used in a different activity later that may provide the information you’re looking for.

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