tshimish your big sister
tshishtikuan your head

The nouns tshimish and tshishtikuan are called dependent nouns. They are always preceded by a personal prefix, indicating a relationship.

nimish my big sister umisha her/his big sister
nishtikuan my head ushtikuan her/his head


In the Innu Dictionary, a noun like umisha has the grammatical category NAD (dependent animate noun), while a noun like ushtikuan is marked as an NID (dependent inanimate noun). Dependent nouns include kinship terms, body parts, and some objects.

ukueiau NID her/his neck
nitun NID my mouth
nititshi NID my hand
ushima NAD her/his younger brother or sister
tshimushumat NAD your grandfathers
tshimushumipanat NAD your late grandfathers
nitash NAD/NID my sock
mitash NAD/NID a sock


The following table gives the forms of a dependent animate noun for each person in singular, plural and obviative. With a 3rd person possessor, the possessed noun is always obviative.

Possessed Singular Plural Obviative
niń (1) nimish nimishat nimisha
my older sister my older sisters my older sister / my older sisters
tshiń (2) tshimish tshimishat tshimisha
your older sister your older sisters your older sister / your older sisters
nińan (1p) nimishinan nimishinanat nimishinana
our older sister (but not yours) our older sisters (but not yours) our older sister / our older sisters
tshińanu (21p) tshimishinan tshimishinanat tshimishinana
our older sister (yours and mine) our older sisters (yours and mine) our older sister / our older sisters
tshińuau (2p) tshimishuau tshimishuauat tshimishiuaua
your (pl) older sister your (pl) older sisters your (pl) older sister / your (pl) older sisters
uiń (3) umisha
her/his older sister / her/his older sisters
uińuau (3p) umishuaua
their older sister / their older sisters
neńua (utauassima) (3′) umishińua

her/his older sister / her/his older sisters / their older sister / their older sisters (e.g. those of her friend)

The prefix mi-
To indicate a general meaning, the indefinite prefix mi- is used, particularly with inanimate dependent nouns. Mi- indicates an unspecified possessor.

ushtikuan her/his head
mishtikuan a head


The suffix -imau is added to certain dependent animate nouns (kinship terms) to indicate a general meaning.

umisha her/his older sister
umishimau an older sister (the sister of someone in general)


The suffix -im
Dependent nouns use the suffix -im to indicate that the relationship includes another (3rd) person.

nishtikuan my (own) head
nushtikuanim my head (taken from someone else, for example the moose I killed)
ushkashia her/his (own) nail
ushkashima her/his nail, her/his claw (taken from an animal or someone else)

In fact, a possessive prefix and the suffix -im are added to the 3rd person form : ni + ushtikuan + im = nushtikuanim (literally: my + her/his.head + im).

The grammar of dependent nouns shows that the Innu language conceives these terms as always being in relation to someone, as being a part of a whole.