How to Say Dad in ASL: Formal and Informal Ways with Tips and Examples

American Sign Language (ASL) is a beautiful visual language used by the deaf and hard of hearing community in the United States and parts of Canada. Just like spoken languages, ASL has various ways to express relationships and family terms. In this guide, we will explore how to say “dad” in ASL, including formal and informal ways. We’ll also touch on regional variations if necessary. Let’s get started!

Formal Way to Say Dad in ASL

In formal ASL, the sign for “dad” is commonly represented using the combination of signs for “father” and “male.” Here’s how to do it:

Start by placing your non-dominant hand (the hand that you don’t write with) flat, palm-up in front of your chest. This hand represents the base for the sign.

With your dominant hand, form an “open hand” shape by extending your fingers and keeping your thumb alongside your fingers.

Touch your dominant hand’s fingers gently to your non-dominant hand’s palm while slightly moving your dominant hand downward.

Remember to maintain a neutral expression while signing to indicate a formal tone. This formal way of signing “dad” is commonly used in formal settings and when addressing someone respectfully.

Informal Way to Say Dad in ASL

In informal ASL, there is a more commonly used sign for “dad” that is simpler and often faster to execute. Instead of combining signs, the informal version focuses on the first letter of the word “dad.” Follow these steps to sign it informally:

Extend your dominant hand’s index finger upward while keeping your other fingers slightly curled.

Touch your index finger to your forehead, specifically the area just above your eyebrow.

Gently tap your index finger, once or twice, on your forehead.

The informal sign for “dad” is commonly used between family members, close friends, and in informal conversations. It conveys a sense of familiarity and affection.

Regional Variations

ASL has some regional variations, where signs may slightly differ between locations. However, when it comes to the sign for “dad,” the formal and informal ways mentioned above are widely recognized and understood throughout the ASL community. Nonetheless, it’s always valuable to be open to learning and adapting to any regional variations you come across in your ASL journey.

Tips on Signing “Dad” in ASL

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while signing “dad” in ASL:

  • Facial Expressions: ASL relies heavily on facial expressions to convey meaning and emotion. Maintain an appropriate facial expression while signing “dad” to give the sign more context and clarity.
  • Consistency: Once you choose between the formal and informal way of signing “dad,” try to remain consistent with your choice for better communication. Changing between the two signs may lead to confusion.
  • Practice: Take time to practice the sign for “dad” until you feel comfortable and confident. Practice with friends, family, or ASL instructors to receive feedback and improve your signing skills.
  • Body Language: Pay attention to your overall body language while signing “dad” to add more meaning and emotion to your message. Use appropriate gestures, posture, and movements to enhance your communication.

Examples of “Dad” in ASL

Here are a few examples of how the signs for “dad” in ASL can be used in sentences or conversations:

Example 1: “Last night, I had a heartwarming conversation with my dad. He always gives the best advice!”

Example 2: “Happy Father’s Day! Wishing all the amazing dads out there a wonderful day filled with love and appreciation.”

Example 3: “I remember my dad‘s big smile when he saw me graduate. It meant everything to both of us.”

Remember, practice and exposure to ASL conversations will greatly enhance your signing skills and fluency when using the sign for “dad.”


Learning how to sign “dad” in ASL opens up a beautiful way to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing community. Whether you choose the formal or informal sign, maintaining consistency and practicing regularly will help you become more fluent in ASL. Remember to incorporate appropriate facial expressions, body language, and to adapt to any regional variations you may come across. Sign confidently and respectfully, and enjoy the meaningful connections you can make through ASL!

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