Make your own free website on

Helping hands

Classifiers in ASL

Morphemes in ASL
Sentence Structure, Hand Shapes, and Simplicity
Facial Expressions
Contrastive Structure and Spacial Agreement
Signing Numbers and Time Signs
Classifiers in ASL

There are various types of classifiers in ASL.

They include:


DCLs (Descriptive Classifiers)

Descriptive classifiers include the basic shapes that are used in sign language to describe shapes. They include the following hand shapes: disc, sphere, cone, cube, and cylinder. To indicate size of the cylinders, a signer must use their mouth, a wide open mouth indicating a thicker cylinder and a small closed mouth indicating a thinner cylinder.

ICLs (Instrument Classifiers)

ICLs are Instrument Classifiers that can be used to show how a person handles or manipulates an object.

Examples of ICLs include, pass, receive, toss, and catch.

ECLs (Element Classifiers)

ECLs are Instrument Classifiers that represent the movements of elements.

Examples of ECLs include the movement of air, smoke, water/liquid, rain, fire, and light, etc.

LCLs(Locative Classifiers)

LCLs are Instrument Classifiers that tell the location of an objects, and/or its movement.

Examples of LCLs include: fast, pop fly, bulk and etc.

SCLs (Semantic Classifiers)

SCLs are Instrument Classifiers that describe where a person is located, where they moved, and/or how they move.

Examples of SCLs are fall forward, sit facing me, and lie on back, looking up.

BCLs (Body Classifiers)

These are primarily used to show how a person moves his/her body parts. They are used to describe a persons action. You only use the upper part of your body to display the verb of the sentence

BPCLs (Body Part Classifiers)

BPCLs represent specific parts of the body. Legs and feet actions are emphasized. To describe these actions you would use the BPCL hand shape to express running, jumping, crossing legs and etc. Facial expressions are used to emphasize how the person does it, like they ran easily, in panic, etc.