-mik and its plural form -nik are used very frequently in Inuktitut and require a detailed explanation. Consider the following two sentences in English:
|He bought the blue car.||He bought a blue car.|
In the first sentence, we are talking about a specific car that is known both to the person who is speaking and the person he is talking with. In the second sentence, the speaker refers to the car very generally. The exact car that was purchased is irrelevant to the conversation they are having.
In Inuktut, when we are speaking very generally about a person or a thing, we attach the affix-mik to the person or thing.
|She sees a house.|
Note, too, that -mik is added to words that describe the object:
|Atausirmik illumik takujuq.||Quqsuqtumik illumik takujuq.|
|She sees one house.||She sees a yellow house.|
When -mik is added to a noun ending in q, it normally changes this q to r. An exception, though, happens with the names of colours. When -mik is added to a colour, it deletes final q.
The dual form of -mik is -nik :
|You have two yellow mittens.|
Note above how the word for yellow, quqsuqtuq, changes to quqsuqtuuk in the dual.
The plural form of -mik is also -nik :
|I have three children.|
In the above sentence, the speaker says very generally that she has three children. The person she is speaking to probably doesn't know the children or very much about them.
An easy way to learn -mik and -nik is to use them with numbers and colours
|Ququsuqtumik nasaqsimajuq.||Tallimaniktuttunik takujunga.|
|He is wearing a yellow hat.||I see five caribou.|
-mik is also used frequently with people's names:
|He has a wife named Mary.|
Note the spelling changes that happen with -mik and -nik are added to roots ending in consonants:
When -mik and -nik (plural) are added to stems that end in q, they change the q to r:
|surusiq + mik =||surusirmik|
|surusiq + nik =||surusirnik|
|some children (3+)|
In the South Qikiqtaaluk dialect, when -mik or -nik (dual or plural) are added to a stem ending in k, the k changes to match either the m or n that follows:
|>inuk + mik =||inummik|
|inuuk + nik =||inuunnik|
|inuk + nik =||inunnik|
|some people (3+)|
When -nik (plural) is added to a root ending in t, it deletes the final t:
|tallimat + nik =||talimanik|
|five of something|