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.
HEATHER: 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
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.]
HEATHER: How can I tell which a person is signing "thank you," or
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
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
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.
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."