Category Archives: Learn Auslan Online

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Colloquialisms

These are common Auslan signs which don’t relate specifically to a single English word. Note that many of them have their own lip patterns too.

• Strange/weird
• Finally, at long last
• Too late
• Hopeless
• Oh, now I get it!
• Come on
• What luck this situation occurred!
• Take me home
• How dare you!
• Sprung! / Ah ha! Caught you! (In the video, just before this sign, I start to sign something else – please disregard that!)
• Please yourself
• Relief / phew

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Lip patterns

In Auslan, the convention is to not mouth or speak the English words and sentences as you are signing, although some Deaf people do this to an extent anyway. For practise, try keeping your mouth closed as you sign. Avoid signing Auslan and verbally speaking English at the same time, as the English will confuse your Auslan grammar, facial expressions, depicting signs etc.

Auslan does, however, have its own lip patterns. These are the mouth shapes Deaf people make when they sign particular words. See the video for the lip patterns for these common words and phrases:


• Finish
• Never seen it / never heard of it
• Strange/weird

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Directional signs and tense

These are signs which vary in direction according to context. For example, the following signs are signed differently depending on who is receiving:

• Give me/you/everyone
• Help me/you/everyone
• Teach you/me/everyone
• Show you/me
• Tell you/me

In the last lesson, I taught you to add the word FINISH to a verb, to show past tense. However, if that verb is directional, like the signs in the video, then you should add the sign FINISH before the verb, not after it. For example, “You told me not to!” would be signed, YOU FINISH TELL-ME NO!

As a rule, frozen signs use verb+FINISH, and directional signs use FINISH+verb.

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Tense

In Auslan, tense is not shown in the verb, the way it is often done in English. For example, in English ‘go’ is in present tense, and ‘went’ is the same word but in past tense. In Auslan, you would use the word ‘go’ for all tenses, and show the tense a different way.

Tense is often shown sufficiently with the use of words and phrases such as ‘yesterday,’ ‘this morning’, ‘before,’ ‘tomorrow night,’ ‘last year,’ ‘when I was growing up,’ ‘in the future,’ etc. When signing, if the tense is clear from the use of these words, there is no need to add further tense markers.

In the situation that tense is not clear, such as when someone signs SHOP ME GO, and if the tense has not yet been established in the the conversation, additional markers may be used. The sign FINISH is used to show past tense, and WILL to show future tense.





Usually the grammar is to use the verb, and then the sign FINISH. However, FINISH need not be added to all the verbs. For example, “I have eaten dinner. I ate spaghetti with mushrooms.” would be signed, DINNER ME EAT-FINISH. EAT WHAT? SPAGHETTI/MUSHROOMS. There is no need to add FINISH to the second “eat”, because the tense has already been shown.

A word of warning: while you may say ‘SEE-FINISH’ if you have already seen a place or a thing, be careful of signing ‘SEE-FINISH’ if you are talking about a person. When you are talking about a person, ‘SEE-FINISH’ means that you have had sex with them!

You can also use the sign FINISH to ask and answer a question. For example, if you want to ask, ‘Have you done the dishes?” you would do the sign for ‘wash-the-dishes’, and then the sign for ‘finish’, and since it’s a yes/no question, you would show it’s a question by leaning forward and raising your eyebrows. If the English answer to that question is ‘yes’, then in Auslan, the answer would often be, FINISH. In Auslan, rather than answering questions with yes/no, speakers often respond with HAVE/DON’T-HAVE or FINISH/NOT YET/WILL or WANT/DON’T-WANT etc.

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Grammar for questions

Read the text for this lesson before you watch the video.

When asking a question, the “W-words” (who, what, where, when, why, how, how many, how old, how much) go last. Try signing:

• Where do you live?
• How much sugar do you want?
• How old is your sister?
• What is the time?
• Who did you go to the movie with yesterday?
• How many brothers and sisters do you have?
• When did you start learning Auslan?
• Why did you clean the house?

If you don’t know the vocab for the above words, fingerspell them. AFTER you have tried signing them with correct grammar, watch the video and correct yourself.


Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Grammar

Read the text for this lesson, before you watch the video.

As I have already mentioned, in Auslan, the grammar and sentence structure is different from English. Now I want to go into this a little deeper and practise putting sentences together using correct Auslan grammar.

The topic is the first part of the sentence. “I’m going to the shop” becomes SHOP ME GO. The shop is the topic. Usually the verb is the last item.

If you use a time marker, (for example, ‘yesterday’) it goes first in the sentence, before the topic. The sentence ‘I went to the shop yesterday’ is signed ‘YESTERDAY SHOP ME GO.’

Try signing:

• I want a drink.
• Do you want to watch a movie?
• My father is very tall.
• Please pass me the salt.

If you don’t know the vocab for the above words, fingerspell them. AFTER you have tried signing them, watch the video and correct your signs:

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Asking questions

In Auslan, there are three types of questions that are asked.

• Yes/No questions – “Are you a teacher?”
• Information questions – “Where do you live?”
• Rhetorical questions – to break up information.

There are rules for the manner in which the questions are asked.

Yes/No Questions:

• Body leans forward
• Eyebrows are raised
• Eyes opened wide

Information Questions:

• Body leans back
• Eyebrows are low
• Eyes squint

Rhetorical Questions:

These are usually used when a speaker is giving a long block of information. It breaks it up and becomes easier to follow. In this situation the speaker asks a question and then answers it themselves immediately. There are no rules for facial expression and body position when using rhetorical questions.

In the video, I give an example of each type of question:

• Yes/No questions – “Are you a teacher?” (TEACHER YOU?)
• Information questions – “Where do you live?” (YOU LIVE WHERE?)
• Rhetorical questions – to break up information. (I LOVE SWIMMING WHY? TO BECOME STRONG AND FIT – GOOD) In this example I should really have signed ‘SWIMMING I LOVE’ because the topic is supposed to go first.