1 Tunngasugit

Dialogue: Welcome

Tunngahuktunga.ᑐᙵᓱᑉᐳᖓ.(Response to 'Tunngahugit').
Inuinnaqtun uqajukpit? ᐃᓄᐃᓐᓇᖅᑐᑦ ᐅᖃᔪᒃᐱᑦ? Do you speak Inuinnaqtun?
Hii, mikijumik. ᕼᐄ, ᒥᑭᔪᒥᒃ. Yes, a little.
Riitaujunga. Kinauvit? ᕇᑕᐅᔪᖓ. ᑭᓇᐅᕕᑦ?My name is Riita. What is your name?
Taivitiujunga.ᑕᐃᕕᑎᐅᔪᖓ. My name is David.


Welcome! (addressing 1 person)
inuktituusuunguvit ?
Inuktitut (Do you speak... ?)
little bit (a...)
What's your name?
What is his / her name?
Where are you from?
I'm from Iqaluit.
I'm from Ottawa.
eating, I am...
eating, you (1) are...
eating, she/he is...
eating, we (2) are...
eating, we (3+) are...
eating, you (2) are...
eating, you (3+) are...
eating, they (2) are...
eating, they are (3+)...
understand (I...)
sleeping (he/she is...)
departs (he/she...)


1 » The Basic Structure of Inuktut

In Inuktut, the basic units of meaning are roots, affixes and grammatical endings.


Roots involve basic vocabulary and always appear at the beginning of words in Inuktut. Here are some examples:

niri- to eat
aullaq- to depart; leave town
tupiq tent

Roots that describe nouns (people, places, animals or objects) sometimes appear on their own:

nuna land
inuk an Inuk; a person
nattiq ringed seal

Generally, though, words are built in Inuktut by attaching affixes and endings to a root.  

Here are three simple noun endings:

-mi in / at a place
-mut to a place
-mit from a place

We can add these endings to a noun root to create a word:

iglumi to the house/building
iglumut to the house/building
iglumit from the house/building


Verb endings are attached to verb roots that describe actions.  Here are three simple verb endings:

-tunga I
-tutit you
-tuq she / he / it


If we add different endings to the same root, we get different meanings:

aullaqtunga I depart.
aullaqtutit You depart.
aullaqtuq He / she departs.


Affixes are pieces of words that appear between the root and the ending.  They can never begin a word.  Affixes add more information about the noun or verb that is described by the root.

For example -liq- is a verb affix that indicates that an action happening right now:

aullaliqtunga I am departing right now.
aullaliqtutit You are departing right now.
aullaliqtuq He / she is departing right now.


In Inuktut, it is possible to build up very long words by adding a series of affixes between the root and the ending.  We can end up with single words that would take an entire sentence to say in English:

tingmiaqarvingmunngaujariaqaqtunga I’ll have to go to the airport.

4 » Simple Verb Endings

Verb roots in Inuktut describe actions or states of being. The verb ending tells us who is performing the action:
takujunga I see


In the above word, taku- describes the action of seeing and the affix –junga describes who is seeing.
By using different affixes, we can talk about different people doing the same action:

nirijunga I am eating.
nirijutit You are eating.
nirijuq He/she is eating.
nirijuguk The two of us are eating.
nirijugut We (3+) are eating.
nirijutik The two of you are eating.
nirijuhi You (3+) are eating.
nirijuk The two of them are eating.
nirijut They (3+) are eating.

The affixes highlighted above in blue can be added to any root that ends in a vowel.  Remember Inuktitut has three vowels i, u and a.

If the root ends in any other letter, we change the y that begins each of these affixes to t:

taiguaqtunga I am reading.
hiniktuq He/she is sleeping.
havaktugut We are working.

2 » I am...

To introduce yourself, you can add the affix -u- to the end of your name followed by the verb ending -junga:

Piita Peter
Piita + u + junga = Piitaujunga I am Peter; My name is Peter.

The affix -u- means to be.  When it is added to a root that ends in a -k or a -q, it deletes the final consonant:

inuk + u + junga =    inuujunga I am Inuk.

You can change the verb ending to -juq to talk about she or he:

inuk + u + juq =    inuujuq He/she is Inuk

Adding –u to names coming from other languages like English, can sound quite awkward in Inuktitut.  If such a name ends in a vowel, it usually isn’t a problem:

Aimi Amy
Aimi + u + junga = Amiujunga My name is Amy.


But if the name ends in a consonant, Inuktitut speakers will usually change -u- to -ngu-, again to make pronunciation easier:

Charles + u + junga = Charles-ngujunga. My name is Charles.

To ask someone their name, you start with the root kina, meaning who?  You then add the affix -u- to the end of kina, followed by the question ending -vit?:

kina + u + vit? Susie.
kinauvit? Who are you?


3 » Where are you from?

The affix -miutaq- means, someone who comes from the place described by the root of the word:

Qurluqturmiutaq   someone from Kugluktuk
Iqaluktuutiarmiutaq   someone from Cambridge Bay
Uqhuqtuurmiutaq   someone from Gjoa Haven
Iqalungmiutaq   someone from Iqaluit
Aatuvaamiutaq   someone from Ottawa

As we see in the above examples, -miutaq can appear at the end of a word. But we can also build onto it to talk about different people. We do this by adding the verb -u- to the the end of -miutaq- and follow it with a verb ending:

Qurluqturmiutaujunga I am from Kugluktuk.
Iqaluktuuttiarmiutaujunga I am from Cambridge Bay.

We can easily change the verb ending to talk about different people:

Iqalungmiutaujuguk  We (2) are from Iqaluit.
Aatuvaamiutaujusi You (3+) are from Ottawa.


We can also add -miutaq- to the question root nani- (meaning where?) to create a question:

nani + miutaq + u + vit? =  
nanimiutauvit? Where are you from?
nani + miutaq + u + va? =  
nanimiutauva? Where is he/she from?