Counting to Ten

Counting to ten is easy. You have been doing this since you were a child. In this case, however, there is one difference. When you were a child, you had to use two hands to count this high. In sign language, you can count to ten (and much higher) using just one hand! A starting place for the material covered in this chapter is to learn to sign “number,” and the sign for “0” (zero).

NUMBER: Touch the fingertips of both flattened “O” hands, and pivot back and forth alternately.

ZERO: Form the letter “O,” palm facing left. The sign for the number “0” will be used in forming other numbers.

One Through Five

With a quick look at the images, you should be able to duplicate the individual handshape of numbers “1” through “5.” The number “3” requires the vertical extension of your thumb along with your index and middle fingers. The handshape for the number “5” is referred to as the “open five.”

ONE: Hold your index finger upright in the vertical position, palm forward, all other fingers tucked away.

TWO: Hold your index and middle fingers slightly spread apart, upright in the vertical position, palm forward, all other fingers tucked away.

THREE: Hold your index finger, middle finger, and thumb slightly spread apart, upright in the vertical position, palm forward, all other fingers tucked away.

FOUR: Hold your index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers apart, in the vertical position, palm forward, and thumb tucked into the palm.

FIVE: Hold all fingers spread apart, upright in the vertical position, palm forward.

Note: Your flexibility as a new signer really counts in this chapter. Tips and visual examples are right here to support you.

Six Through Ten

The counting process changes for six through nine. It's easy; you only need to touch a specific finger to your thumb.

SIX: Touch your pinky finger to your thumb. Note: The number “6” looks like a “W.” The context of a conversation will help you to differentiate between numbers and letters.

SEVEN: Touch your ring finger to your thumb.

EIGHT: Touch your middle finger to your thumb.

NINE: Touch your index finger to your thumb. Note: If you're thinking that the number “9” is another example of duplicity, you're right again. It has the same handshape as the letter “F.”

TEN: Extend your thumb on the “A” hand and pivot your wrist to the right.


When signing the numbers six through nine, hold the remaining fingers upright, and have your palm facing forward. Just think, there is no need to use both hands to count above five again!

Time to Review

You made it to ten counting on one hand! Let's do a quick review of how you accomplished this. In sign language, the pinky finger represents the number “6.” The ring finger represents the number “7.” The middle finger represents the number “8.” The index finger represents the number “9.” When you lightly touch any of these four fingers separately to the thumb, this action confirms the number position. Simply refer to the table at the right until you master the numbers. Here is another memory aid to help you: Little finger, little number; big finger, big number.


Finger Position











Now, let's examine those numbers and letters that share the same hand-shapes and that are the cause of some confusion for novice signers:

  • The number “2” is formed in the same way as the letter “V.”

  • The number “6” is formed in the same way as the letter “W.”

  • The number “9” is formed in the same way as the letter “F.”

  • The number “10” is formed in the same way as the letter “A,” but with the addition of a twist of the wrist.

  • The way numbers are signed can vary according to region. In some regions, the numbers are signed with the palms facing you; in others, the palm is facing the reader. Both palm positions are correct, depending on your geographical region and perhaps on your ASL teacher as well.

    <B>Number Handshapes as Descriptors</B></h2> <p>You will find that the handshapes of numbers are also used as descriptors. Instructions in sign language dictionaries often refer to numbers to describe handshapes. For example, you may see entries that tell you to use the “one” hand or to use the “three” hand. In previous pages of this book, you have already read instructions on forming a sign that used the handshape of a number: an “open five” hand. Knowing how to form all the handshapes, including numbers, is a very important part of your new journey into this visual language.</p> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="" title="It's All in the Numbers">It's All in the Numbers</a></li><li class="next"><a href="" title="Conversations with Letters and Numbers">Conversations with Letters and Numbers</a> </li></ul></div></div> <div id="coda"> <div id="rel"><div class="n5">Related Articles</div><ul> <li><a href="" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Counting to Ten - Sign Language </a></li> <li><a href="" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Tackling Eleven Through Nineteen - Sign Language </a></li> <li><a href="" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Hand Reflexology Poster - Ten Step Hand Reflexology Treatment in Revie... </a></li> <li><a href="" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Milan 1880 - An Event Has a Major Impact on Deaf Education </a></li> <li><a href="" zT="18/1YL/Zn"> Undeciphered Scripts - Images of Ancient Undeciphered Scripts </a></li> </ul></div> <div id="sec"><div class="n5">Read More Count 1-2-3</div><ul><ul class="col1"><li ><a href="">It's All in the Numbers</a></li> <li class="btO">Counting to Ten</li> <li ><a href="">Conversations with Letters and Numbers</a></li> <li ><a href="">Tackling Eleven Through Nineteen</a></li> <li ><a href="">Counting to Ninety</a></li> </ul><ul class="col2"><li ><a href="">Big Numbers</a></li> <li ><a href="">Fractions</a></li> <li ><a href="">Money</a></li> <li ><a href="">Signing Ev eryday Numbers</a></li> </ul></ul></div> </div> <script>if(zSbL<1)zSbL=3;zSB(2);zSbL=0</script> </div> <div id="widgets"><script type="text/javascript">if(z336>0){w('<div id="adB">'+ap[0]+at[4]+as[0]);adunit('','','',ch,gs,300,250,'1','bb',3);w('</div>')}if(z155>0){w('<div id="adP">'+ap[0]+at[4]+as[0]);adunit('','','',ch,gs,336,155,'1','ps',4);w('</div>')}</script> <div id="pg" class="pane"><div class="n3">Shopping</div><div class="cntnr"><a href=""><img src=""></a><h4><a href="">THE EVERYTHING SIGN LANGUAGE BOOK</a></h4><p><a href="">By Irene Duke</a></p><div id="fp"><a href="">Buy This Book</a></div></div></div> <div id="toc" class="pane"><div class="n3">Sign Language Sections</div><ul><li><a href="">Top 10 Reasons You Should Learn Sign Language</a></li> <li><a href="">What Is Sign Language?</a></li> <li><a href="">The Origins and History of Sign Language</a></li> <li><a href="">Strategies for Learning</a></li> <li><a href="">Fingerspelling</a></li> <li><a href="">Get a Firm Grip on the Rules</a></li> <li><a href="">Questions, Questions!</a></li> <li><a href="">Variety Is the Spice of Life</a></li> <li><a href="">Count 1-2-3</a></li> <li><a href="">Friends, Family, and Acquaintances</a></li> <li><a href="">The Whole Picture</a></li> <li><a href="">Ready, Set, Go!</a></li> <li><a href="">Father Time</a></li> <li><a href="">The Great Outdoors</a></li> <li><a href="">Let the Banquet Begin</a></li> <li><a href="">Around and About</a></li> <li><a href="">What's Up, Doc?</a></li> <li><a href="">Around the World</a></li> <li><a href="">New Age of Sign Language</a></li> <li><a href="">Expressing Yourself with Signing</a></li> <li><a href="">Further Your Skills</a></li> <li><a href="">Quizzes and Games</a></li> <li><a href="">Resources</a></li> </ul></div></div> <script type="text/javascript">zCi();validateForms();</script> <div id="abf" style="padding-right:0"><ol class="crumbtrail"><li class="home"><a href="">Home</a></li><li><a href="">Sign Language</a></li><li><a href="">Count 1-2-3</a></li><li>Counting to Ten</li></ol></div> <div id="aboutinfo" class="hlist"><div id="morefrom"><h6>Visit other sites:</h6><ul><li><a href="" rel="nofollow">Calorie Count</a></li><li class="last"><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></li></ul></div> <ul id="siteinfo"><li><a href="">SiteMap</a></li><li><a href="" rel="nofollow">Help</a></li><li><a href="" rel="nofollow">Privacy Policy</a></li><li><a href="" rel="nofollow">Your Ad Choices</a></li><li class="last"><a href="" rel="nofollow">Contact Us</a></li></ul> <ul id="companyinfo"><li class="last"><a href=" " rel="nofollow">Buy Books</a></li></ul><div id="disclaimer"> </div></div></div> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- zPxA[zPxC]=new Image();zPxA[zPxC++].src=""; adclose() //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript">(function(){var po=document.createElement('script');po.type='text/javascript';po.async=true;po.src='';var s=document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(po,s)})();</script> </body></html>