Grammar » -mik (affix)

-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 Inuktitut, when we are speaking very generally about a person or a thing, we attach the affix -mik to the person or thing.

illumik takujuq.
She sees a house.


Note, too that -mik is added to words that describe the object:

Atausirmik illumik takujuq.She sees one house.
Quqsuqtumik illumik takujuq.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 :

 Quqsuqtuunnik pualuqaqtutit.  You have two yellow mitts.



Note above how the word for yellow, quqsuqtuq, changes to quqsuqtuuk in the dual.


The plural form of -mik is also -nik :
Pingasunik qiturngaqaqtunga 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. He is wearing a yellow hat.
Tallimanik tuttunik takujunga. I see five caribou.

see also: describing people or objects


-mik is also used frequently with people's names:

Mialimik nulialik
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   a child
 surusiq + nik =  surusirnik  some children
In the Uqqurmiut 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 a person
inuuk + nik =
inuunnik two people
inuk + nik = inunnik some people
natsiik + nik = natsiinnik two seals
marruuk + nik =
marruunnik two of something


When -nik (plural) is added to a root ending in t, it deletes the final t:
 tallimat + nik =  talimanik   five of something