1 Tunngasugit

Dialogue: Welcome

Tunngasuppunga.ᑐᙵᓱᑉᐳᖓ. Response to 'Tunngasugit', literally "I feel welcome."
Inuktituurungnaqqit?ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑑᕈᖕᓇᖅᑭᑦ? Do you speak Inuktitut?
ii, mikijumik.ᐄ, ᒥᑭᔪᒥᒃ. Yes, a little bit.
Riitaujunga. Kinauvit? ᕇᑕᐅᔪᖓ. ᑭᓇᐅᕕᑦ? I'm Riita. What's your name?
Taivitiujunga.ᑕᐃᕕᑎᐅᔪᖓ. My name is Taiviti.


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.
eat, I...
eat, you...
eats, she/he...
eat, we (2)...
eat, we (3+)...
eat, you (2)...
eat, you (3+)...
eat, they (2)...
eat, they (3+)...
understand (I...)
sleeps (he/she...)
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
natsiq 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:

sijjami at the shoreline 
sijjamut to the shoreline
sijjamit from the shoreline


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 -lauq- is a verb affix that indicates that an action happened in the past:

aullalauqtunga I departed.
aullalauqtutit You departed.
aullalauqtuq He / she departed.


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:

qangatasuukkuvimmuuriaqalaaqtunga I’ll have to go to the airport.


2 » 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 verb ending –junga describes who is seeing.
By using different verb endings we can talk about different people doing the same action:

nirijunga I eat
nirijutit you eat
nirijuq he / she eats
nirijuguk the two of us eat
nirijugut we (3+) eat
nirijusik you two eat
nirijusi you (3+) eat
nirijuuk the two of them eat
nirijut they (3+) eat

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

If the root ends in any other letter, we change the j that begins each of these verb endings to t:

uqalimaaqtunga I read.
sinittuq he / she sleeps

3 » To Be

In its simplest form, the verb “to be” is expressed with the affix -u-.  It normally appears right before the verb ending:

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

When –u 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.
inuujuq He / she is Inuk.


Remember: In Inuktut, you will almost never find more than two vowels in a row. So, if you delete the final consonant, and find that you already have two vowels, you have to use the affix -ngu- instead of -u-.  This makes pronunciation easier:

pinnguaq toy; game
pinnguaq + u + juq = pinnguangujuq It is a toy.

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


Susi Susie.
Susi + u + junga = Susiujunga My name is Susie.


But if the name ends in a consonant, -ngu- is used instead of-u- to make pronunciation easier:

Charlesngujunga My name is Charles.
Stewartngujunga My name is Stewart.

4 » Where are you from?

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

Iqalummiutaq   someone from Iqaluit
Kimmirummiutaq   someone from Kimmirut
Kinngarmiutaq   someone from Kinngait
Panniqtuurmiutaq   someone from Panniqtuuq
Qikiqtarjuarmiutaq   someone from Qikiqtarjuaq

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:

Iqalummiutaujunga I am from Iqaluit.
Qikiqtarjuarmiutaujunga I am from Qikiqtarjuaq.

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

Iqalummiutaujuguk  We (2) are from Iqaluit.
Qikiqtarjuarmiutaujusi You (3+) are from Qikiqtarjuaq.


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

nami + miutaq + u + vit? = namimiutauvit?
  Where are you from?