Grammar » past tense

There are a few ways that we can talk in Inuktitut about events that have happened in the past.

Firstly, we can attach an affix to a verb that marks the past tense.

 

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

Ippaksaq tuktulialauqtuq.
Yesterday, he went caribou hunting.
 
Aatuvaamuulauqtunga.
I went to Ottawa.

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: Inuktitut 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.) :

isiq- to come in
isiqtunga I came in.
   
tikit- to arrive
tikippa? Did she arrive?