Grammar » above, beside, underneath...

Let’s start with this sentence:

Piita illuup sanianiittuq.
Piita is beside the house.

This is a complex structure, but not a difficult one. Let’s break it down:

1. There is the subject of the sentence. In this case it is Piita. Nothing special happens to the subject. We can change the subject and have a very similar sentence:

Qimmiq illuup sanianiittuq. The dog is beside the house.

2. There is the object that the subject is positioned around. In our sentence, it is illu or house. If this object is singular, it takes the ending –up. Remember that –up deletes final consonants:

qajaq + up = Piita qajaup sanianiittuq.
  Piita is beside the kayak.

3. There is the element that tells us where the subject is located:

Piita illuup sanianiittuq.

sania litterally means, 'it's side', in this case 'the side of the house'. By inserting different words here, we can change the location we are talking about:

sania the side of (the house)
qulaa the area above (the house)
qaanga the top of (the house)
ataa the underside of (the house)
sivuraa the front of (the house)
ungataa the far side of (the house)
tunua the back of (the house)

4. There is the verb –niit:

Piita illuup sanianiittuq.

-niit is a close relative of the affix –miit meaning to be at or in something:

Piita namiippa? Where is Peter?
illumiittuq. He is in the house.
illuup sanianiittuq. He is beside the house.


5. There is the verb ending. The verb ending must always match the subject of the sentence:
Piita illuup sanianiittuq. Peter is beside the house.
Qimmiik illuup sanianiittuuk. The two dogs are beside the house.
Timmiat illuup sanianiittut. The birds are beside the house.


We could also say:

Umiap sanianiittunga. I am beside the boat.
Nunasiutiup qaanganiittutit. You are on top of the car.
illuup tunuaniittuguk. We (2) are behind the house.