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Personal pronouns are the ones that talk about me, you and them. They are handled in a systematic and simple way in sign language. You can still express as much with just a few gestures as you can in English, but you don’t have to worry about the case of the pronoun (whether the right word is ME or I).
I want to talk about pronouns. Pronouns, of course you know, are words that take the place of nouns. Before we can discuss pronouns themselves, we also need to talk about nouns. Or, particularly, names. And, pronouns are going to take the place of nouns and I am talking about people in this. There is not really a pronoun for IT, so we are talking about people here.
So, with sign names, or with a person’s name, you can spell your name. Like my name is DAVID. And I have a sign name which is David. And each person can make up your own sign name. Or the sign name can be give to you by your deaf friends. And typically what will happen is your sign name will have something to do with a physical characteristic you have or using one of your initials. And sometimes a combination of both.
For example, I have a friend Francisco. He has big ears. So his sign name is the letter F just touching his ear. Sometimes you will see somebody who has a mole. And so their sign name might be touching the spot where the mole is. My sign name is David with the D. It is something you just make up on your own. It doesn’t have to be anything special or have any kind of meaning. One fellow I met recently his sign name is Phil with the P right there on the chin. All kinds of ways that you can do sign names.
So a sign name in essence is a pronoun because you can use that sign to mean the person that you are talking about. So you have sign names to take the place of a proper noun, of the person’s name. But then you can also use what we would call a typical pronoun.
So pronouns kind of have a way that they work. A system. And so here is the basic system.
If you just use your pointer finger and point to the other person you are saying YOU. YOU. YOU need to do this…or whatever.
I can point to me, point to myself and it would be ME. Now, if I am talking about a person that is standing here to my side, I can say HIM or HER. And it is obvious who I am talking about because we are all right here. I can see YOU. YOU can see ME and we both can see HIM. So we use our pointer finger, our index finger to indicate who we are talking about.
It is also possible that the person is not there. I can talk about my brother and I can say, my brother. And I am going to put him here. I am going to use this gesture. Or you can do the little person and say my brother and point to him. Now when I talk about him in the story I can just point…HE said this. HE did that. So you can use, even if a person is not physically present, you can use the indicating finger to show who or where the person or thing is.
Then you have the collective, WE, US. You can do that a couple of different ways. The W and you are saying, WE. And essentially what you are doing is pointing to yourself and you are including all the other people around. US with the U. US. Now, you also see it like this, and this is the way I personally do it. I point to myself and then I point to all of you and then back to myself. WE or US.
The same way with ME and I. I talk about myself, I or ME. You will see sometimes it will be done with an I like this and ME like this. I do them both by pointing to myself. They mean the same thing in grammar. Now, not English grammar. I know English grammar says I and ME are different, but in sign language grammar they are essentially the same thing. ME
I can point to myself and to YOU and to US. I can talk about THEM, those people over there. I can talk about YOU plural with my index finger. So your index finger is showing the basic simple pronoun.
Now, if you want to show possessive you use the open palm. You can say MY. MY book. YOUR car. And you are using the open palm to show possession. I can talk about HER. HER dog. And then if I wanted to talk about my brother that is standing there, HIS. HIS family. OK?
So you are using the open palm to show possession. So, how would we do OURS? OURS – Just start here on your side and you are going to include all the people using the open palm and include all the people. OURS
YOURS as in plural. YOURS
THEIRS – Those people over there. It is THEIR classroom.
So the open palm shows possession and the index finger shows basic, indicating who the person is. YOU, ME, HIM (that is standing right here), HIM that’s far away and we’ve set him up in the story. So you can use pronouns so you don’t have to use the person’s name over and over.
Now, if you do know the sign name, then of course you want to make sure all of this is clear. So use the person’s sign name that you are talking about. Use whatever you can. If the person is physically there it is so much easier to point to them or point to YOU. So use—make sure it is clear. That’s the big thing. You need to be clear in your meaning and in your signs. So whatever it is, whether it is using pronouns, sign names, or just basic words, you want to be clear in your signing.
OK? So that is your pronouns. Just a real simple lesson on how to use pronouns. This is LearnSigns.com/14. If you will go to the website, LearnSigns.com, and then put a slash and then just the number of the lesson you are looking for and you will bring the lesson up.
Thank you for watching.
One reply on “LearnSigns 14: Personal Pronouns”
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