i'm not sure if this is the right place for this, but hopefully someone will know what i'm looking for. i have been trying to clean up all the ugly urls all over my site, and i have come across a lot of material about editing/creating a .htaccess file for cluft-free addresses. i thought i would start with the simple, straight-forward pages just to get a handle on what i'm doing, but even these are not working the way i want.

the problem seems to be that php files don't want to rewrite at all, and i get a 404 instead. if i do something like this:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteBase /
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^signup/?$ /signup.php
RewriteRule ^contact/?$ /contact.html

the contact.html rewrite works perfectly, but the signup.php gives me the error. it seems to me that there is either a setting somewhere or something in the code that i'm just not getting right, though everything i've read pretty much sites this method for achieving the rewrite to both .html and .php files. i have been reading for hours now, and i just cannot find anything that touches the problem. i really don't know much at all about what i'm doing, so any help would be appreciated.