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ASL Alphabet & Simple Fingerspelling

In our experience, when people get excited to learn sign language they tend to start with the alphabet. We commend them for trying to learn on their own, but many times they stop there. While it is great that they’re learning something, imagine having a conversation like this…


ASL Learner: H-E-L-L-O

Deaf Person: Hi (slightly confused)

ASL Learner: M-Y  N-A-M-E  I-S  J-O-E.  I  A-M  L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G  S-I-G-N  L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E.

Deaf Person: 😳


The alphabet is one of the building blocks of American Sign Language, but simply put, you cannot hold a conversation by fingerspelling everything. I mean, could you imagine spelling out everything in a spoken English conversation instead of just using words? Yikes, how exhausting! ASL includes a beautiful and diverse vocabulary, as well as a unique grammar and syntax. So while we encourage you to learn the ASL alphabet, please, please, PLEASE don’t stop there! 


Fingerspelling does have a significant role in ASL and it is crucial that you know it. How else are you supposed to spell out your name when you introduce yourself, or state the name of the city you’re from? ASL fingerspelling is used when signing proper nouns like these as well as other words that do not have a designated sign. Sometimes it can be confusing to know when it is appropriate to use fingerspelling; we will dive into this topic further in a future post.


In order to improve your receptive and expressive fingerspelling skills you’ll need to practice. Let’s get started!


Fingerspelling Word: Dad


Fingerspelling Word: Jig


Fingerspelling Word: Mom


Fingerspelling Word: Put


Fingerspelling Word: Why

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