How to Express Possessives and Pronouns in American Sign Language
Using pronouns in American Sign Language (ASL) is the same as in English; you need to refer to a noun before you use a pronoun. You may also use possessives during your Sign conversation. Show possession by indicating whom you are talking about, what is being possessed, and then an open palm facing the person.
You can also use proper nouns (a person’s name) to discuss possessives. Fingerspell the name of the person and then point to the item you’re talking about and sign a question mark. For example, suppose that you’re signing with someone and you want to know if the coat on the hook belongs to Tony. Fingerspell T-O-N-Y, point to the coat, and sign a question mark.
This table gives a list of pronouns that refer to people, and it also gives you the signs for the regular and the possessive pronouns.
Simple sentences can follow English word order. Put the possessive pronoun sign before or after the person or thing you’re signing; the order doesn’t matter. For example, you sign “My dog” either as DOG MINE or MY DOG.
As a group, four little pronouns — this, that, these, and those — get a big name, demonstrative pronouns. But you don’t really need to know the name, just the signs, which are in this table.
Sign the pronoun that by pointing to your subject with your dominant hand in the Y shape and bent at the wrist. Sign this, these, and those by pointing to the subject or subjects.
The following sentences can give you some practice with pronouns and possessives:
English: He is rich.
Sign: RICH HIM
English: He has money.
Sign: MONEY HIS
English: She is wise.
Sign: WISE HER
English: She has wisdom.
Sign: WISDOM HERS
English: They have gold.
Sign: GOLD HAVE THEM
English: The gold is theirs.
Sign: GOLD THEIRS