Some Signs Require Two Hands

Now that you have made your decision to sign with your right hand or left hand, there is a small curve in the road. Not all signs are formed using just one hand. Many signs require the use of both hands, and the use of the dominant hand does not always apply here.

There are three different ways to form signs:

1. One-handed signs are formed using only your dominant hand, for example the sign for “mirror.”

MIRROR: Form the sign for “mirror” by imitating that you are holding a small vanity mirror and looking into it.

2. Two-handed symmetrical signs require the use of both hands moving the same and formed with the same handshape. Both hands will also be in the same location. See for example the sign for “rain.”

RAIN: Form the sign for “rain” with both palms down, fingers spread to an “open five” while dropping your hands down several times to imitate rain.

3. Two-handed asymmetrical signs require movement from your dominant active hand while your nondominant hand remains stationary. Often, the nondominant, or motionless, hand acts as a support base in these types of signs. See the signs for “sunrise” and “sunset.”

SUNRISE, SUNSET: To sign “sunrise,” place your nondominant arm and hand level with your chest. With your dominant hand, form the handshape of a, open “C” and bring it upward to a high-noon position; this is “sunrise.” Now, bring the arm back down level with the elbow of the nondominant arm, and this represents “sunset.”

Look at these images and use the appropriate hand or hands to form the signs just as you see them demonstrated. Now, as a mini-drill, repeat forming these signs three times each. Repetition allows you to gain a feel for the hand and arm movement used in creating these signs. Each one of these three signs should feel quite different from the others as you form each sign. While this may seem a little confusing right now, as you move along and acquire more signed vocabulary, all of what has been discussed here will have greater clarity.

You have signed “mirror” one-handed and “rain” two-handed, using the same movement, direction, and handshape equally. In learning to sign “rain,” you have created a two-handed, symmetrical sign. You have signed “sunrise” and “sunset” using your dominant hand to create the action and movement, while your nondominant hand and arm remained motionless. In learning to sign “sunrise” and “sunset,” you have created a two-handed, asymmetrical sign. Congratulations — learning these three ways to form signs is a big step!

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