back.gif (1674 bytes)


  ASL University ►

American Sign Language: "good"

Often the sign "GOOD" is done without the base hand.

For example, when signing "good job" I rarely use the left hand.


GOOD (1-handed version)

When signed with just the dominant hand only, this sign GOOD overlaps with the sign "thank you" but see further below for some of the differences and ways to tell GOOD and THANK-you apart.


GOOD (2-handed version)
When emphasizing the sign GOOD or doing the sign as a response to a question signers often do the sign GOOD with two hands.
Make the 2-handed sign for "good" by placing the fingers of your right hand against your lips. Move your right hand into the palm of your left hand.  Both hands should be facing upward. 




:  I've seen the sign GOOD done off the chin instead of the lips.  Does that change the meaning?

Dr Bill:  No.  It still means the same thing. Realistically most of the time the sign GOOD doesn't "touch" either the chin or the lips.  Oh sure, you might see some signers touch the chin or lips for GOOD but in everyday fluent signing at high speeds the sign GOOD generally just starts near the mouth and moves forward and down at an angle.

I remember teaching a class to the co-workers of a Deaf employee.  When I taught this sign, the employee insisted that "GOOD" was off the lips and "THANK YOU" was off the chin.  I just smiled and mentioned to the students that they would see it both ways in the Deaf community but when around their co-worker to sign it his way.  [By the way, not all Deaf people are great signers -- just as not all Hearing people are great speakers of English.]

:  How can I tell which a person is signing "thank you," or "good?"

Dr Bill: 
There are four main ways to differentiate GOOD and THANKS:

1.  By the context of the sentence. Which meaning makes sense in your sentence?  For example, the sign would probably mean "good" if it preceded the sign "NIGHT" (as in the phrase "good night."

2.  Direction of the sign:  The sign "THANKS" tends to be done toward the person (or thing) to or for which the signer is feeling thankful. In other words, THANKS  is "directional."  That means it is signed toward the person whom is being thanked. GOOD is signed with a simple downward movement. 

3.  Lip movements:   Sometimes whether a signer is signing GOOD or THANKS can be figured out by their lip movements.  Some (but certainly not all) signers might choose to mouth the word "good" (or the word "thanks").  Remember, this is optional and not right or wrong.

4.  Use of the non-dominant hand as a base:  GOOD can be done as a two-handed sign moving the dominant hand toward the non-dominant hand. 

GOOD (2-handed version)


Notice that in the compound sign for "goodnight" we actually drop the second part of the regular sign for good and instead smoothly transition into "night."

Also see: "better and best."

Also, you may want to see the sign:  "GOOD-ENOUGH"

Also see: THANK YOU



Note:  The sign for "BAD" is very similar to "GOOD" except there is a reversal of orientation for negation--which means that by twisting the palm-side of the hand so that it points down (instead of up--as in the sign for good) it now means the opposite of good.  You also change your facial expression to match your meaning.  Generally this is a frown or scowl when signing "BAD."

Make the sign for "BAD" by placing the fingers of your right hand against your lips.  Move your hand down and away.  Your palm will now be facing downward.


See: BAD

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


You can learn sign language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University    Dr. William Vicars


Here is an example of how the sign GOOD often looks in real life conversations.  Notice how it is often done one handed, very quickly, and with only a short movement:



Question: Samantha Morrow asks:
"For saying, "I'm good, thanks", would you sign "good" and "thanks" as they're so similar, or is there a different approach to this?"

Response from Dr. Bill:
If for some reason the signer wanted to actually produce the signs commonly labeled as GOOD and THANK-(you) (perhaps for a mixed language environment such as an academic course in an English-speaking country examining a specific bit of language discourse involving the phrase "I'm good, thanks" ) you could do the sign "GOOD" (capitalized here as a form of ASL gloss -- not yelling) a bit more downward or use the two-handed version of "GOOD." Then do "THANK-(you)" aimed more toward the person to whom you are signing.

Consider though that the word "good" when used in "I'm good, thanks" doesn't mean "good" in the typical sense that the sign "GOOD" means good (as in being desirable or worthy of approval).

Rather the "good" in "I'm good, thanks" -- means I'm content, satisfied, and/or I have enough.

Thus you could sign:
"IX-(I/me) SATISFY, THANK-you" -- or in other words "I'm content, thanks."