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To effectively communicate with sign language, you need to know basic sign language words and phrases. Just like spoken languages, there are a variety of sign languages used around the world. American Sign Language (ASL) is used throughout North America, including the U.S. and English-speaking Canada.

ASL is a complete language, which means that you can communicate just about anything through signing. Those who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as people with functional hearing, use ASL to converse in a rich and expressive way.

Want to know how to learn sign language for beginners? If so, this list of words in American Sign Language for beginners is perfect for you.

How Can I Teach Myself Sign Language?

Here are a few tips for learning sign language for beginners:

  • Research local classes and resources to learn sign language.
  • Utilize online tutorials and videos to get familiar with the basics.
  • Take advantage of apps that focus on teaching sign language.
  • Connect with members of the Deaf community to increase proficiency.
  • Practice regularly for long-term retention of sign language skills.

The best way to learn sign language for beginners? Signing up for lessons! A sign language class for beginners will provide you with the 1:1 help you need to be successful in communicating in this language. Check out the many benefits of doing so by watching the video below: 

ASL for Beginners

ASL beginners usually start with learning the alphabet. The 26 letters of the English alphabet can be conveyed through signs in ASL, and words can be spelled out through sequences of signs. This is called “fingerspelling.” Want to give it a try? Figuring out how to fingerspell your own name is a great place to start!

Below, you can find a handy sign language chart that shows how to sign the ASL alphabet. You can always use these letters when you don’t know how to sign an entire word. If you need to spell a word that has the same letters back to back, make a slight bounce or sliding motion between the repeated letters.


Now that we’ve explored the alphabet, we can move on to words and phrases!

What Words Should I Learn First in Sign Language?

If you are interested in learning sign language, it’s natural to wonder what words you should learn first. Here are some of the most important sign language words for beginners to master first.

1. The Alphabet 

The first thing you should learn when starting sign language is the alphabet. It’s critical to know the letters, so you can spell words and communicate with others effectively. The alphabet includes 26 letters, and each letter has a unique sign. Learning the alphabet will also help you understand how to form signs for words.

2. Greetings 

Greetings are crucial in any language, including sign language. Knowing how to say hello, goodbye, thank you, and other greetings will help you start and end conversations. It’s essential to master these words and signs so that you can make a positive first impression when meeting deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

3. Basic Questions 

Asking questions is an essential part of communication. In sign language, you can ask questions through facial expressions, tone of voice, and non-manual markers. Be sure to learn basic questions such as “What is your name?”, “How are you?”, and “Where do you live?”

4. Family and Friends 

Knowing how to sign words for family members and friends is crucial in building relationships. Be sure to learn how to sign mother, father, brother, sister, and other family members. You can also learn words for friends, like best friend, buddy, and pal.

5. Colors 

Colors are visual and are often used in conversations. Learning the signs for colors can help you identify objects, describe something, or express a preference. Basic colors to learn include red, blue, green, yellow, and black.

To expand your ASL vocabulary even more, watch Dr. Bill run through 100 sign language words for beginners:

Sign Language for Beginners: Common Expressions

It’s not always practical to spell out words for everyday interactions. That’s where these expressions come in handy! You can use common expressions to meet people, show your appreciation, and communicate with friends.

Asking Questions with Basic Sign Language Words

A single word question can keep a conversation flowing and help you get to know others. An important part of asking questions with sign language is using your face to look inquisitive while you sign. When asking a yes or no question, the eyebrows are raised. With questions that may incur a more detailed response, the eyebrows are lowered.

The following video guide from Victoria, an ASL teacher, covers many important phrases, including basic questions like these!

Basic Sign Language Words and Phrases for Kids

It’s recommended that parents expose their deaf or hard-of-hearing children to sign language as early as possible. At most hospitals in the United States, newborns are tested for hearing loss so that parents can encourage language learning as soon as possible. Language skills develop alongside cognitive and social skills, and teaching your child ASL — or learning it with them — is a great way to grow together.

There are certain words and phrases that are especially important to know when communicating with children. Some of these phrases include: “I love you,” “What’s wrong?” and “Good job!” Watch Bill Vicars of walk through some of the most important phrases to know as a parent.

To expand your ASL vocabulary even more, watch Dr. Bill run through 100 sign language words for beginners:

Other Sign Language Fundamentals

If you’re new to ASL, there are some important facts you should know about signing. First off, ASL goes beyond hand gestures alone – facial expressions and body language also play a critical role in communication. For example, we’ve seen that you use your eyebrows when asking a question.

Next, you should know that ASL is not used worldwide. Other sign styles such as British Sign Language (BSL) differ in many important ways, although it’s still possible for some trans-lingual signers to communicate in a basic form. Cultures around the world have developed their own ways to communicate via sign, and it’s interesting to learn how people communicate in languages other than ASL.

The Best Way to Learn ASL for Beginners

As with learning any type of language, it takes time and persistence to develop communication skills through sign. While learning a few basic sign language words is easy, mastering ASL takes years of practice. One of the greatest developments in ASL learning has been the ability for teachers, students, and friends to connect via webcam. Online ASL lessons make it possible to build sign language skills from anywhere in the world.

While lesson videos, sign language books for beginners, and online resources are a great tool for learning vocabulary and the fundamentals of ASL, there is no substitute for working one-on-one with a teacher. A private sign language class will allow for real-time feedback and personalized lesson plans, so your sign language skills can reach their full expression.

Ready to take your ASL skills to the next level? Learn sign language with ease with a sign language teacher today!


ASL chart source:

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2023-08-02T16:51:04Z dg43tfdfdgfd