uapatamu utapannu she sees a car
uapameu minusha she sees a cat

The nouns utapan and minush take different endings and can be used with different verbs. Utapan is an inanimate noun and minush is an animate noun. All nouns in Innu have a gender : animate or inanimate.

Animate nouns refer to people, animals, and living things like trees and plants. Inanimate nouns refer to objects. However, the grammatical gender of a language is often arbitrary. As in French, where it is difficult to explain why a chair is feminine but a stool is masculine, many Innu nouns have a gender that cannot be explained. For example, body parts are inanimate, but pants anakapeshakan is animate.

In the dictionary, the gender of each noun is indicated by an abbreviation (a for animate, i for inanimate). Gender is indicated in the following abbreviations :

  • na : animate noun
  • ni : inanimate noun
  • nad : dependent animate noun
  • nid : dependent inanimate noun
  • nap : animate noun participle
  • nip : inanimate noun participle

Depending on their gender, nouns take different grammatical markings for the plural or the obviative.