Grammatical markings on a word are called “Inflection”. Verb forms vary depending on the person and number (singular or plural) of the subject and sometimes those of the object, as well as the order, the mood and the tense.
The variations between the different singular and plural person inflections are indicated in the following table, along with their abbreviations in column 3:
|1. Pronoun||2. Meaning in English||3. Person||4. Verb Form||5. Translation|
|tshiń||you [singular]||2s||tshitatussen||you work|
|neńua||that one, the other one||4||atusseńua||s/he [obviative] works; they [obviative] work|
|neńua||that one, the other one (one further)||5||atusseńua||s/he [obviative] works; they [obviative] work|
|nińan||we, but not you||1p (1Pe)||nitatussenan||we work (but not you)|
|tshińanu||me and you [singular or plural], or us and you [singular or plural]||21 (1Pi)||tshitatussenan||we work (you included)|
|tshińuau||you [plural]||2p||tshitatussenau||you [plural] work|
|tshekuan||people, it||X||atussenanu||people work, there is working going on|
|tshekuanńu||people, it (other)||X’||atussenanuńu||people [obviative] work, there [obviative] is working going on|
|tshekuan||it||0s||pashteu||it [inanimate] is dry|
|tshekuana||they||0p||pashteua||they [inanimate] are dry|
|tshekuanńu||it (other)||0’s||pashteńu||it [obviative, inanimate] is dry|
|tshekuanńua||they (others)||0’p||pashteńua||they [obviative, inanaimate] are dry|
REMARKS AND EXPLANATIONS
Column 1 indicates the personal pronoun corresponding with each verb person, except the 4th person (the obviative) for which there is no personal pronoun, but which can correspond to a demonstrative in the obviative (neńua). These pronouns are not necessary for conjugating a verb, unlike in French.
Column 2 gives the corresponding meaning of each person.
Column 3 presents the notations used in conjugations (paradigms) to indicate the subject’s person, or those of the subject and complement in the case of TA (transitive animate) verbs, as in example (1) that follows:
|2s-1s||tshuapamin||you (sg) see me||2nd person singular subject
1st person singular complement
|1s-2s||tshuapamitin||I see you (sg)||1st person singular subject
2nd person singular complement
|2-1p||tshuapaminan||you (sg) see us or you (pl) see us||2nd person singular or plural subject
1st person plural (exclusive, 1p) complement
|2s-3s||tshuapamau||you (sg) see him||1st person singular subject
3rd person singular complement
|1s-3p||nuapamauat||I see them||1st person singular subject
3rd person plural complement
- For more information about the conjugation of TA verbs, see Verb Classes, VTA Stems, as well as the complete conjugation guide.
The notation in Column 3 can be explained as follows:
- 1s, 2s, 3s are singular person inflections.
- 1p, 21, 2p, 3p, are plural person inflections.
- Some of the person inflections in Column 3 of the table are specific to Innu (and to Algonquian languages).
- In English, we can mean either that the interlocutor is included (you and me and the others) or that the interlocutor is excluded (me and others, but not you). Innu expresses this difference between tshińanu and nińan. 21p (or 1Pi) corresponds to what we call the 1st person plural inclusive, including both me or us and you (sg.) and you (pl.) (speaker and interlocutor). It translates as we in English but as the prefix tshi- shows, from the point of view of the Innu language, tshiń (2) includes niń (1). The 21p notation reflects this as well (2+1). The 1p (or 1Pe) notation corresponds to the 1st person plural inclusive, so-called because it excludes the interlocutor. It translates as we in English.
- The 4 notation, or 4st person, is called obviative. It is used when there is more than one 3rd person as the verb’s subject or complement: the second 3rd person becomes a 4th person. In Innu, a distinct plural obviative form (4p) only exists with certain II verbs. Otherwise, the form can either denote the singular or the plural, which is why we have the 4(p) notation.
- If there is already a 4th person, it is possible to have a 5th person (person 5) or even a 6th person.
|3p-4||uapameuat||they see someone else||3rd person plural subject
4th person singular complement
|3p-5||uapamimeuat||they see someone else (e.g. someone’s brother)||3rd person plural subject
5th person singular complement
|4-5||uapameńua||someone else sees someone else||4th person plural subject
5th person singular complement
|4-6||uapamimeńua||someone else sees someone else||4e person plural subject
6th person singular complement
The person is marked by suffixes on verbs of all conjugations, and by prefixes in conjugations of the Independent Order.
The ends of verbs (or suffixes) give information on the person, order, mood, and tense. In the case of the conjunct and imperative orders, as there are no person prefixes, the endings indicate the person.