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The myth of "STORE I GO"

Also see: "ASL Sentence Structure"

Lots of "ASL" teachers misuse the phrase "STORE I GO" as an example of typical ASL grammar. 

The "Store I go" syntax is an unfortunate myth. In real life the vast majority of socially active native Deaf adult ASL signers in conversation with other fluent signers just sign "I GO STORE."

The myth has been told so often and for so long (often by Hearing teachers of ASL or even some young Deaf teachers that aren't all that great at ASL themselves) that many people (who haven't lived in the Deaf Community for a lifetime) believe it -- yet it simply isn't the case. While there are certainly times when that sentence should be topicalized -- such situations are comparatively rare to the extent that claiming otherwise is somewhat misleading.

For example, take a look at Zach Lotane (profoundly Deaf / fluent ASL signer) signing "if I should go store" and not "store, I go."

Example from two fluent signers:  Jill is a fluent ASL signer (who is an interpreter, etc.) and her partner, Jenna, is Deaf. Note how she doesn't sign "store, can enter" -- instead she signs "can enter store." See Jill signing "I go store" again here:  You can see Jenna (Deaf) signing "have to go other store" not "other store, have to go to."

Here we see Deaf fluent ASL signer Rogan Shannon signing, "I would go to a thrift store" (I FUTURE LEAVE-(go out to) (fs)-THRIFT STORE...) -- not "store I go."

See Chey Clearbrook (Deaf) here explaining how she signs "I go store" in ASL:  Notice how she uses a trendy / slang version of "GO" that starts with a claw shape and transitions into an "S" shape?  That along the lines of "bounce, jet, bolt, split" and similar concepts in English such as "I'm outa here!"  Over time this version has become quite common but is more marked than the basic GO sign.

Here we see Chey (Deaf) signing "every time I walk into a store..." -- not "store, I walk into."

Remember, I've suggested to you that you will indeed find examples of Deaf teaching the "STORE I GO" construction (spreading the myth) but I encourage you to also look for examples of those *same* individuals discussing going to the store in a natural setting when they are not thinking about it. 

For example, Ryan (Deaf) has a video in which he taught the myth "STORE, I GO" at ( ), yet in another video (at: ) when he isn't "thinking about it" he just naturally signs "go store" (contradicting himself).   Don't misunderstand my point.  He seems like a really nice guy and signing is his primary form of face to face communication. I'm just saying that even many Deaf have bought into the myth to the extent that they teach "store, I go" but in everyday real life ASL signing when they aren't "thinking about it" those same people tend to just sign "I go store." (Not, "Store, I go.") Here is another example, in which he signs "we had to go to the store" as (WE-2 MUST GO STORE) here: --   also see:

We see Alex Abenchuchan signing "GO STORE" (not STORE, GO) at:

In a wonderful ASL rendition of the story "If you give a moose a muffin" -- the signer signs "GO STORE"

In the original posting of this article Deaf, fluent signer Channing Brown had a video up in which she signed "going into a store" (not "store, going into).  That video is now "private" (at ) so can't see it but the point remains that when Deaf are not thinking about it we tend to just sign "I GO STORE" (not, STORE, I GO). I mention this particular video in case any of the other videos move or get taken down it doesn't really matter because these are not isolated or rare instances -- rather they are real life examples of the type of signing that goes on every day.


The use of "STORE I GO" as an example of American Sign Language (ASL) sentence structure is not representative of the type of signing actually being done by socially active adult Deaf native signers.

It is a myth.



____ If you would like to do a deep dive on this topic, see: ASL Sentence Structure

____ Observation would suggest that often the individuals teaching this are learners of ASL as a second language and/or have NOT spent a lifetime of interacting with socially active adult Deaf native signers. This isn't to say that there aren't many excellent Hearing teachers of ASL. There are indeed many excellent ones.   It is simply to suggest that a lifetime of interacting with Deaf and using ASL as your primary language leads people to use it in natural ways that flow and are very efficient (also know as "being fluent").

____ If you have not read this page yet please do so before debating or arguing the article titled: "The Myth of STORE I GO."

____ Prior to to using the term "pure ASL" please define the term and get several people to agree with you.  If you are using a term to label an example but don't have a definition for the term you will be chasing your tail.

____ "STORE, I GO" is not "wrong." The myth isn't the right or wrongness of "STORE, I GO" but rather the "myth" is that "topicalization" = "topic comment" (it doesn't) and that "topicalization" is the main, top, or even most common grammar structure in ASL (it isn't).  "STORE, I GO" is merely a lesser used form of ASL equivalent to "passive voice" in English. It has its uses but one such use should not be as the poster child for ASL.


If a newscaster uses the phrase, "In a telephone interview Friday, Sánchez said" once at the beginning of a sub-section of a story -- it is a great introduction.
If the newscaster used the phrase, "In that telephone interview Friday, Sánchez said" -- before every single sentence in the rest of the story it would be "over-use" of topicalization.
Topicalization is not wrong.
Overuse of topicalization is the problem.
The "myth" being sold to ASL students is that "topicalization" is the main grammar structure in ASL.
The challenge is that many ASL teachers don't realize there is a difference between "topic/comment" (which can include both SVO and OSV and various other sign-orders) and "topicalization."
Topicalization does not equal "topic comment."
Topicalization (passive voice) is "one" version of "topic/comment" -- so is "SVO."


Also see: "The myth of always needing to fingerspell brand names, proper nouns, and titles"

Another example of go to the store:


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