How to talk about love in three sign languages

I love writing about sign languages from all around the world, but sometimes the written word isn’t the easiest way to convey what a sign looks like.

Recently, I went looking for GIFs of signs that appear in my story Reading the Signs, which features Dutch Sign Language (Nederlandse Gebarentaal or NGt), and my story What Marriage Is Aboutwhich features German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache or DGS).

But I couldn’t find any! So I decided to make some accompanying GIFs from various teaching videos I’d found around the web.

In this post, I’m sharing some of the GIFs I made along with a bunch of love-related words in American Sign Language I borrowed from GIPHY’s huge library of ASL signs.

Since a whole page full of moving GIFs can be overwhelming, I’ve added hide/show tabs so you don’t have to see all of them at once unless you like. Just press [+] to show a sign, and [-] to hide it.


Dutch Sign Language

Dutch Sign Language: “I love you”

Share it on GIPHY or watch the YouTube video.

Dutch Sign Language: “marry” (verb)

Share on GIPHY or watch the video.

German Sign Language

German Sign Language: I love you

Share it on GIPHY or watch the video on

German Sign Language: “I love you”—another way

Share it on GIPHY or watch the YouTube video.

American Sign Language

American Sign Language: “fall in love”

ASL sign for fall in love

American Sign Language: “I love you”

This uses three signs: The one for I or me, the one for love, and the one for you.

ASL signs for I love you

American Sign Language: “I love you”—another way

This sign is also called the “ILY sign” because it combines the handshapes of fingerspelled American Sign Language letters I, L and Y. its roots are as an abbreviation of the written English phrase, I love you.

It has caught on in other countries throughout the world, including the Netherlands.

ASL ILY sign, a one-yanded sign that means I love you

BONUS! Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender in American Sign Language


Learn to talk about love in the sign languages of the U.S., the Netherlands, and Germany! Click To Tweet

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