ASL Grammar: How to ask a Yes or No Question in American Sign Language
August 9, 2019
Hi! For yes/no questions, the sentence
structure is the same as for a sentence where I’m telling or commanding
you. The difference for a question is that the eyebrows are raised! For example:
“You’re a student.” The sentence, I’m telling you: the signs YOU STUDENT.
YOU STUDENT, YOU. Now the question: “Are you a student?” YOU STUDENT, YOU? See the
difference? If you know casual English has a similar tendency, where if I’m
telling you: “you’re a student”, my voice is flat. If it’s a question: “You’re a student?”,
the voice goes up. So you can imagine the difference there. In ASL it has something
similar where the eyebrows go up to show it’s a question. In English the
structures “Are you…” or “Do you…”. we don’t use those in ASL. Simply YOU STUDENT?, or
maybe “The girl there, she’s a student?” Here are more examples:
“Your sister, is she happy?” Remember, eyebrows up: SHE HAPPY, SHE?
Another example: “Do you like chocolate?” Notice the difference: I’m telling you:
“Chocolate, I like” versus “Chocolate you like?” You can maybe about second “YOU”.
I tend to use the second YOU pronoun. CHOCOLATE, YOU LIKE, YOU? Another example… HELP, and that’s the sign HELP, it’s directional depending on who is where.
Plus, if it’s a question like “please” or “do you mind”,
eyebrows must go up. So the difference between: HELP-me, “Help me” — I’m telling you
or ordering you to help me. And the difference between that and HELP-me?
“Will you help me?” or maybe “Do you mind helping me?” And if I’m offering: “Can I help you?” “May I help you?” So it’s to HELP-you.
“Can I help you?” And the response is either YES or NO. Another one: JOIN. “I join you.”
And if my eyebrows are flat, I’m joining you — I’m telling you that I’m going! I am
joining. But if maybe you’re going out, and I’m curious.. want to come… then:
“May I join you?” Eyebrows are up, and you lean forward: “Can I join you?” Okay, so again let’s review:
For yes or no questions, means the response is “yes” or “no” or “maybe” —
any of those three — the question, you have to have eyebrows raised, plus you should
be leaning forward and the last sign you can hold for a second. Okay? Last example: “Are you subscribed already??” Okay, if you haven’t yet subscribed, please click the
button! And that means that you’ll see when I upload new videos. Alright, thank
you for watching, and I’ll see you again soon. Bye!