How to Say “Hello” in American Sign Language (ASL)

Greetings are an essential part of any language and culture, and American Sign Language (ASL) is no exception. Whether you’re meeting a deaf person for the first time or simply want to learn a new way of communicating, knowing how to say “hello” in ASL opens up a world of possibilities for connection and inclusivity. In this guide, you’ll find formal and informal ways to say “hello” in ASL, along with a few tips and examples to help you master this fundamental greeting.

Formal Ways to Say “Hello” in ASL

When you want to greet someone in a more formal setting or with individuals you’ve just met, you can use these ASL greetings:

  1. Wave Hello: Gently raise your hand, fingers closed, and move it side to side a few times.
  2. Handshape “H”: Place your thumb between your index and middle fingers, keeping your other fingers extended, and move your hand slightly back and forth.
  3. Salute: Bring your fingers together, thumb tucked in, and touch your forehead lightly with your fingertips. Then, swiftly bring your hand down.

Informal Ways to Say “Hello” in ASL

In casual settings, such as among friends or when you are more comfortable with the person you’re greeting, you can try these informal ways to say “hello” in ASL:

  1. Open Palm Wave: Extend your hand with fingers spread wide and tilt it from side to side.
  2. Fingerspelling “HI”: Bring your hand up, palm facing out, and form the letters “H” and “I” with a smooth movement.
  3. Air Kiss: Pucker your lips and blow a small kiss towards the person you are greeting. This sign is used more commonly among close friends.

Tips for Saying “Hello” in ASL

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as you learn how to greet someone in ASL:

  • Facial Expressions: Remember that facial expressions play a crucial role in ASL. Maintain a warm and friendly expression to accompany your greeting.
  • Eye Contact: Establish eye contact with the person you’re greeting, as it shows respect and attention.
  • Body Language: Use open and welcoming body language to create a friendly atmosphere when saying “hello” in ASL.

Example: When greeting someone in ASL, imagine you are conveying the warmth of a friendly hug through your signs and expressions.

Regional Variations

ASL is a dynamic language with regional variations in signs across different areas. While the signs for “hello” tend to have consistent variations in the United States, it’s important to note that certain regions may have their own unique signs that are specific to their deaf community. When in doubt, it’s always best to use the more widely recognized signs or ask the person you’re communicating with about their preferred sign.


Learning how to say “hello” in ASL not only opens doors for communication with the deaf community but also shows your respect and inclusivity towards individuals who use sign language as their primary means of communication. Remember to practice your signs, pay attention to facial expressions and body language, and be open to learning the regional variations that may exist. With these tips and examples, you’re well on your way to becoming proficient in greeting others using ASL. So, go ahead and start spreading warmth and connection with your newfound knowledge of ASL greetings!

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