minush cat minushat cats
utapan car utapana cars

The words minush and utapan refer to one cat and one car. We say that they are singular. The words minushat and utapana refer to more than one cat and more than one car. We say that they are plural. In Innu, animate nouns like minush and inanimate nouns like utapan take different plural endings. The way number (singular or plural) is marked on nouns depends on their gender (animate or inanimate).

To form the plural of animate nouns, the suffix at is added.

Example Singular/peikushu Plural/mitshena = at
Animate / ka ińniuimakak minush minushat
atiku atikuat
nishk nishkat
atimu atimuat
ińnu ińnuat
napeu napeuat
aueshish aueshishat
nishtesh nishteshat
uapimin uapiminat

To form the plural of inanimate nouns, the suffix a is added.

Example Singular/peikushu Plural/mitshena = a
Inanimate / eka ka ińniuimakak utapan utapana
tetapuakan tetapuakana
uapikun uapikuna
mashinaikan mashinaikana
massin massina
ashini ashinia
mitshuap mitshuapa
mishta-min mishta-mina
meshkanau meshkanaua

The best way to know whether a noun is animate or inanimate is to check the dictionary. It will be written as either “na” (animate noun) or “ni” (inanimate noun).

Here are some examples of sentences written in singular and plural:

Animate / ka ińniuimakak
Peikussu minush, uapishiu. Mitshetuat minushat, patetat itashuat.
There is a cat, it is white. There are several cats, there are five.
Nuapamau peikuatiku pemutet. Pimipatauat nishtuatikuat shakaikanit.
I see a caribou walking. Three caribou run on the lake.
Inanimé / eka ka ińniuimakak
Mińuashu utapan, mikuashu. Nuapaten nishuaush utapana pemipaniti.
The car is pretty, it’s red. I see eight cars pass.
Ishpanau tetapuakan. Nitaianan nishutetapuakana.
The chair is high. We buy two chairs.