Example Words
tshekuan something tshekuannu something (obviative)
nimin I drink niminnan we drink
nutapan my car nutapannan our car
shiuenu niminushim my cat is hungry shiuennua uminushima his/her cat is hungry
nimashinaikan my book nimashinaikannan our book
uikan nuiashim my meat is good uikannu uiashim his/her meat is good
tshitakun you (sg) photograph me tshitakunnau you (pl) photograph me

Description of the Problem

In Innu, there aren’t many double consonants; a vowel is often written between two consonants, even if the vowel isn’t pronounced. For example, pimi lard, nuapamimau I see the other one, niteniten I think something. However, an unpronounced vowel is not written between two n consonants.

This spelling difficulty can be illustrated in two parts:

  • double n consonants that are part of the lexical spelling, that is, found within the word;
  • double n consonants that result from the addition of a suffix that begins with n to a word or root ending in n.

Double n as part of the word

When Innu spelling was being standardized, the decision was made for two consonants pronounced without a vowel between them to be written nn. Here are some examples.

innu human, Innu, First Nations person inniminan blueberry
innipi freshwater inn extremely
manneu s/he takes something away uinnueu s/he hates to see him/her
uinnakuan something is dirty uinn subcutaneous fat
utenni his/her language tatipanneu s/he sorts things
shinneu s/he gets the contents out by pressing on it atimunnish monkey
In most dialects, we hear both n consonants when the words are pronounced. However, in the Mamit dialects, we only pronounce one n. Speakers of these dialects must therefore pay attention to words that are spelled with two n consonants.


The Innu Dictionary is the best tool for learning how to write a word that contains the double n. It’s even possible to run a search in the dictionary to find most of the words that contain these doubled consonants.

Learning Strategy for Double n

A good way to learn the spelling of words that have the double n is to identify roots that contain them, and to learn these spellings. This is a good technique for learning the spelling of many words in the same root family, such as words related to innu human, First Nations person, to live, etc. to uinn fat, dirty.


It can be useful to create lists of words that contain two n consonants that don’t come from the addition of a suffix.

Double n created by the addition of a suffix

tshekuan + ńuobviative = tshekuau something
shiueń + ńuaobviative = shiueńńua the other one is hungry
apu papań + ńitiobviative = apu papańńiti the other one can’t manage/the other one isn’t coming
nutapan + nan1st person plural = nutapannan our car
nimin + nan1st person plural = niminnan we drink
tshitakun + nau2nd person plural = tshitakunnau you (pl.) photograph me
tshimiń + nan1st person plural = tshimińnan you (sg.) give us something
tshiuepań + nanuindefinite = tshiuepańnanu we’re going

In order to write inflected words (words that take a grammatical marker) correctly, we must be aware that we are adding a suffix beginning with the letter n to a word that already contains an n at the end. This can be noted in the examples below where the words in the right-hand column (in grey) take a suffix that begins with an n:

EXAMPLES OF WORDS CONTAINING TWO n CONSONANTS due to the addition of a suffix
utapana cars utapau the other car
shiueńu s/he is hungry shiueńńa the other one is hungry
nimukumana my knives nimukumannan our knife
tshimińauau you (pl) give him something tshimińnau you (pl) give me something
nikańanan we hide something tshikańnan you (pl) hide something from us
unipańu s/he is mistaken unipańnanu we are mistaken
atussenanu we work atussenau etati we work (obviative) when s/he is there
petakanu we hear something petakau unikamun we hear his/her song
auen who, someone aueua someone (else)
eukuan here is… eukuau here is…(the other one)

Here are the main suffixes that begin with an n and which can be added to a word or stem ending in n:

  • the obviative suffix which can be added to nouns, pronouns and verbs:
    neńua umassinńua these shoes; the other’s shoes
    takushinńipani ute auenńua someone (else) came here;
    shiueńńua neńua that one (the other one) is hungry;
    apu unipańńiti neńua that one (the other one) is not mistaken;
    atussenanńu etati we work (obviative) when s/he is there;
  • -nan and -nan suffixes of the 1st and 2nd person plural, which we use with possessive nouns and conjugated verbs:
    nimashinaikannan tshimashinaikannan tshimashinaikannuau
    our book our book (yours and mine) your (pl) book
    nuńakannana tshuńakannana tshuńakannuaua
     our glasses our glasses (yours and mine) your (pl) glasses
    nishiueńnan tshishiueńnan tshishiueńnau
    we (without you) are hungry we (with you) are hungry you (pl) are hungry
    niminnan tshiminnan tshiminnau
    we (without you) drink we (with you) drink you (pl) drink
    tshikańnan tshikańnau tshikańnanitshe
    you (pl) hide me,
    you (sg) hide us
    you (pl) hide me you (pl) must hide us
    tshitakunnan tshitakunnau
    you (pl) photograph us,
    you (sg) photograph us
    you (pl) photograph me
  • suffixes for indefinite subject verbs: -nanu, -nanipan, -nanishapan, etc., in the independent; -nanut, -nanuti, etc., in the conjunct; the obviative forms of these indefinite suffixes: -nannu, -nannipan, -nannishapan, etc., in the independent; -nannut, -nannuti, etc., in the conjunct.
    shiueńnanu shiueńnanikupan apu shiueńnanut
    we are hungry we should be hungry we are not hungry
    minnanu minnanipan apu minnanut
    we drink we drank we don’t drink


Double n consonants that result because of the addition of a suffix beginning with n to a word or stem ending in n should be a specific topic of instruction, especially for the Mamit dialects, where double n consonants are not pronounced.