|tshimish||your big sister|
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.
|ushima||NAD||her/his younger brother or sister|
|tshimushumipanat||NAD||your late grandfathers|
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.
|my older sister||my older sisters||my older sister / my older sisters|
|your older sister||your older sisters||your older sister / your older sisters|
|our older sister (but not yours)||our older sisters (but not yours)||our older sister / our older sisters|
|our older sister (yours and mine)||our older sisters (yours and mine)||our older sister / our older sisters|
|your (pl) older sister||your (pl) older sisters||your (pl) older sister / your (pl) older sisters|
|her/his older sister / her/his older sisters|
|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.
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.