Making signs plural or in the past tense
We have received several emails asking how to make signed words plural or showing if something happened in the past, as well as having emphasis to show desire.
There are a few different ways to do this:
- One way to show an emphasis or plurals is to repeat the sign. For example, if you are wanting to say “He wants that really bad!” You would sign WANT+WANT+THAT+HE. That double use of the sign want shows that he really wants it. You would NOT sign the word bad because it has a different meaning in this sentence. The double signing of want also makes it a plural.
- Showing something happened in the past can be done by making a gesture of throwing it over your shoulder. This is using the sign space that refers to the past. (Use the 5-hand with the palm facing backward, moving in a backward direction).
- You can also sign FINISH after a sign to show that it happened in the past. For example, if you want to say "He wanted to go." You could sign GO+HE+WANT+FINISH.
- There is an English signing method that has you add the S or ED or ING ending to the words but this is not as widely used and is actually frowned upon by most people who use American Sign Language. The more appropriate method is to determine what is meant and translate it accordingly. For example, if you want to say "He is left wanting." You could sign HE+WANT+MORE+STILL.