Skip to 0 minutes and 18 secondsIn sign language there are two kinds of agreement: agreement with the grammatical person and agreement with the space. In agreement with the grammatical person, the direction and movement of the hands indicate who is the doer of the verb and who is the receiver. The sign of the verb itself incorporates this information depending on the direction the hands face. In some cases, the verbs whose form cannot be modified appear together with an auxiliary agreement sign which has the function of expressing who does the action and who receives it. Spatial agreement gives information of where the action is performed, thanks to the position and orientation of the hands and fingers in the space.

Dou you want to know more? Verb agreement

In this video Santi discusses the two kinds of agreement in LSC: agreement with the grammatical person and agreement with the spatial location.

Verbs in Catalan Sign Language use the space in front of the signer’s body to express grammatical meaning. We can distinguish three main groups: verbs that do not modify their form; verbs that modify their form depending on the subject/object; and verbs that modify their form depending on some locative information. Let’s have a look at each group together with some examples.

The first group are plain verbs, which include “to think”, “to live”, “to play”. These verbs are signed in the same way, regardless of who does the action. We first express the pronoun (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he/she’) and then we sign “think” without any modification.

The second group includes verbs that modify their form to indicate the subject and object of the sentence. These are directional verbs. “To help”, for example, is a directional verb and we sign it differently depending on who is helping whom. Therefore, “I help my sister” or “my sister helps me” are signed differently. The direction of the palm of the hand and the finger tips varies according to who does the action and who receives it. Other directional verbs include, for example: “to understand” (“I understand you”, “you understand me”), “to give” (“you give me”, “I give you”), “attract” (“you attract me”, “I attract you””), “to choose” (“I choose you”, “you choose me”), “to tell” (“I tell you”, “you tell me”).

The third group of verbs consists in verbs which modify their articulation according to the place where the action takes place. Some examples of these spatial verbs are “to put” (“to put something in a drawer” will be signed low in sign space, while “to put something in a shelf” will be signed up), and “to operate” (the sign will be articulated close to the part of the body operated).

This is the basic information you will need for this introductory course. However, if you want to learn about specific elements of grammatical agreement in greater detail, we recommend consulting the Basic Grammar section of the Catalan Sign Language Website.

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Introduction to Catalan Sign Language: Speaking with Your Hands and Hearing with Your Eyes

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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