How to Say “Guess” in ASL: Formal and Informal Ways, Tips, and Examples

When it comes to American Sign Language (ASL), understanding how to express the word “guess” is crucial for effective communication. Whether you’re in a formal setting or having a casual conversation, knowing the different ways to convey this concept can enhance your ASL fluency. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various ways to express “guess” in ASL for both formal and informal scenarios. We’ll provide tips, examples, and even touch upon regional variations if necessary. Let’s dive in!

Formal Ways to Say “Guess” in ASL

Formal situations usually occur in professional settings, classrooms, or when interacting with individuals you may not be familiar with. It’s essential to convey respect and maintain appropriate sign choices. Here are a few formal ways to express “guess” in ASL:

1. Direct Translation: GUESS

In ASL, one way to use the word “guess” is through a direct translation of the English term. To sign “guess” formally, use both hands in a “5” handshape with palms facing each other. Tap the fingertips of these “5” hands together. This sign indicates the concept of making an educated estimation.

Example: “I guess the answer is correct.”


Informal Ways to Say “Guess” in ASL

Informal situations involve conversational contexts, among friends, or when interacting with individuals in a more relaxed setting. Here are a few informal ways to express “guess” in ASL:

1. Guessing Facial Expression

In informal settings, ASL speakers often rely on facial expressions and non-manual markers to indicate “guessing.” It involves raising your eyebrows and slightly tilting your head forward while signing the related concept or sentence. This non-manual feature adds a casual and conversational element to your ASL expression.

Example: “I don’t know, I can only guess.”


Facial Expression: Raise eyebrows and slightly tilt head forward while signing “GUESS ONLY.”

2. Approximation Sign

Another informal way to express “guess” in ASL is through an approximation sign. It involves using a related sign that represents a similar concept to convey the idea of “guessing.” This approach is particularly useful in casual conversations or when discussing hypothetical situations.

Example: “I guess it will rain tomorrow.”


Approximation Sign: Channel the idea of “guessing” through your expression, tone, and contextual cues.

Tips and Additional Examples

Here are some tips and additional examples to keep in mind when using ASL to express the concept of “guess” formally or informally:


  • Pay attention to the context and adjust your sign choice accordingly.
  • Consider the formality of the setting and choose between formal or informal expressions.
  • Utilize facial expressions and non-manual markers to convey nuances or informal elements.
  • Confidence in your signing can help indicate that you are expressing an educated guess.

Additional Examples:

  • “Can you guess what happened?” Sign: “HAPPEN++, YOU GUESS POSSIBLE?”
  • “They guessed the correct answer.” Sign: “ANSWER CORRECT, THEY GUESS.”

Remember, ASL is not a purely standardized language, and regional variations may occur. These variations may influence the specific signs people use to convey “guess” in certain areas. However, the core concepts outlined in this guide should provide a strong foundation for expressing “guess” in ASL across various regions.

In conclusion, the ability to effectively express “guess” in ASL is essential for clear communication. By understanding both the formal and informal ways to convey this concept, utilizing facial expressions and appropriate sign choices, you can enhance your ASL fluency. Remember to adapt your expressions to suit the context, and always strive to improve your signing skills. Happy signing!

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