Pien nanitam ui pushu. Peter always wants to leave by boat.
Shikatimitishu, eukuannu uet akushit. He took a chill, that’s why he is sick.

The words ui and uet in the above examples are called preverbs (or grammatical preforms). They are placed just before the verb. Preverbs can mark sentence structure, tense, aspect or mood. Here are some other examples:

Position 1 Conjunct Sentence Structure (Subordinates)
e (neutral, present) Shash nimueshtatshin nanitam uipat e unian.
I’m tired of always getting up early.
ka (past or relative clause) Tshetshishep tshimuanńipan ka tshitutet.
This morning, it was raining when she left.
tshe (future) Tshi nipauiani, eukuan patush tshe atasseian.
After I’m married, I’m going to move to another town.
Position 1+2
katshi (past completive) Niminaputshen katshi natamishuiani shikuteua.
After picking bakeapples, I make jam.
tshetshi (future completive) Nitaiauau mishtikuai tshetshi ashpikuashuian.
I buy leather in order to make crafts.
Nika auiau mishtikuai tshetshi ashpikuashuian.
I will buy leather in order to make crafts.
Nitaiauati mishtikuai tshetshi ashpikuashuian.
I bought leather in order to make crafts.
etshi, e tshi (completed action, logical link) Meshakaian nete ka tshikamut ne ańapi anite shatshit, nukuanńua neńua utshitshtańapanuaua neńu [etshi tshikamuiaht ańapia]. (Excerpt from Joséphine Picard, 1980, Pessamit, cited in Drapeau 2014, p.277; spelling revised.)
When I arrived at the place where the net was installed at the lake head, their stakes appeared, [for setting up their net].
tshi (completed action) Patush tshi atusseiani, tshe natashtikusheian.
After I’m finished working, I’ll go shopping.
Position 2 Tense, mood, origin, cause
Future: (…ka)
nika (1st person, independent)
Nika takushin kanapua ekᵘ !
Of course I’ll come!
tshika (2nd or 3rd person, independent) Atiku-uiash tshika mitshinanu uapaki.
We’ll eat caribou meat tomorrow.
Conditional: (…pa)
nipa (1st person, independent)
Nipa mishta-minueniten tshi uapatamuk nutaui utassi.
I would be very happy if I could see my father’s hunting territory.
tshipa (2nd or 3rd person, independent) Eka katakᵘ tshitutetakue, uipat tshipa takushinipan.
If he hadn’t gone far on foot, he would have returned early.
Cause, origin: ut, uet (changed form of ut) Nete shatshit uet pushit Pien.
It’s from the lake head that Pierre left by canoe.
Shikatimitishu, eukuannu uet ui tshiueut.
He took a chill, that’s why he wants to go home.
Position 3 Modality (volition, possibility)
ui, ua (changed form of ui): volition Uniam nanashiu, uipat ui nashipeu. (Uashat)
William is in a hurry, he wants to go down to the coast early.
tshi : possibility Nanitam tshimuan, apu nita tshi maushuian.
It’s raining non-stop, I can never go berry-picking.
Nukum eshkᵘ tshi tapishikuaimᵘ ushaputinikanim.
My grandmother can still thread her needle.
Variable Position
ishpish, eshpish (changed form of ishpish): so much, as much Tshiueuiani, (eukuan) shipu tshe apashtaian, anu apu tshika ut ishpish pimishkaian pimapuniani.
On the way back, I’ll take the river so that I won’t have to paddle as much if I let myself be carried by the current.
(before ui) Apituauakut ishpish ui pimuteu.
She wanted to walk halfway across the sand dune.
(after ui) Apituauakut ui ishpish pimuteu.
She wanted to walk halfway across the sand dune.
In the expression tan eshpish? tan…isphish? (position 1 or 2 only; always before ui) Tan tshe ishpish ui pushin?
When do you want to go on a trip?

When the conjugation has personal prefixes, as in the Independent Order, they attach to the preverb. When there are several preverbs, the prefix attaches to the first preverb.

Ninipan. I sleep. (no preverbs)
Nui nipan. I want to sleep. (one preverb)
Nika ui nipan. I will want to sleep (two preverbs)

Order of Preverbs

Some preverbs are only used in the independent, some only in the conjunct, and some are used in all orders, including the imperative. Some conjugations can combine with many preverbs, such as 01 and 11. A distinction is made between grammatical preverbs (1, 2, 3) and lexical preverbs (4) which have aspectual or qualitative values, and are used to create new verbs. When several preverbs are used, their order is relatively fixed:

  1. Conjunct order preverbs
  2. Tense preverbs
  3. Modal preverbs
  4. Lexical preverbs (of aspect or quality)

Lexical preforms are placed closest to the stem; some act either as a preverb or as an initial element of the stem. Here is a summary of our observations on the order of preverbs:

1 2 3 4 VERB
Conjunct Tense: Mood: Aspect STEM suffixes
future volition Quality
past possibility


1 2 3 4 VERB (stem+suffixes) English Translation
ka ishpish ui minu- pimuteian When I want so much to walk well…
when as much volition well walk.1Conj
e ui kuekuetshi mitshishuian While I want to try to eat quickly…
while volition try.quickly eat.1Conj
nika ui minu- atusseu I would like to work well.
1.Future volition well work.1Ind
tshika tshi uapamau You will be able to see him.
2.Future possibility see.(2➞3)Ind