Grammar » 7 » Past Tense

-rataaq- is an affix that is used to describe actions that have happened in the immediate past (within the hour).

isirataaqtuq He / she just came in.
tikirataaqtugut We just arrived.

-qqau- is an affix that is used to describe actions that have happened earlier in the day.

uqaalaqqaujuq He / she called earlier.
angirraqqaujunga I went home (earlier that day).

 

-lauq- is used to describe actions that have happened yesterday or in the not too distant past.

ippatsaq tuttulialauqtuq Yesterday, he went caribou hunting.
taqqiulauqtumi qikalauqtuq Last month she went on holidays.

Note that when any of the above affixes are added to a root ending in a consonant, they delete the final consonant.

aullaq + rataaq + tuq =  
aullarataaqtuq She just left (departed) a few minutes ago.
   
tikit + qqau + juq =  
tikiqqaujuq He arrived earlier.
   
malik + lauq + tut =  
malilauqtut They followed (yesterday or earlier).
 
Important: Inuktut speakers don't always use these affixes to talk about events in the past. At times you have to rely on context of the conversation to know whether a verb like "nirijuq" refers to an event right now or in the past.

Verbs involving motion often refer to an event in the past when they are combined with basic subject endings (-junga/-tunga, -jutit/-tutit, -juq/-tuq, etc.) :

tikippit? Did you arrive/make it here OK?
tikippunga I arrived/made it here OK.