Grammar » time

To tell time in Inuktitut, we use affixes that describe the motion of the hands around a clock.

-muuq- is an affix used to talk about getting to someplace:

Panniqtuumuuqtuq He went to Panniqtuuq.

When telling time, we use the affix -muuq- to indicate that the little hand of the clock (naittua) has reached a certain hour:

uamuuqtuq It's one o'clock.
tuumuuqtuq It's two o'clock.

* We have spelled out the numbers so you have a sense of pronunciation.  In written Inuktitut, you would normally use a numeral:

1-muuqtuq 2-muuqtuq


-miinngaaq- is an affix meaning "to be coming from":

niuvirvimmiinngaaqtuq He came from the store.

By putting together -miinngaaq-  with the affix -liq- we put it in the present tense:

kaapiturvik + miinngaaq + liq + tuq = kaapiturvimiinngaaliqtuq.She is coming from the coffee shop.

Anytime between the beginning of the hour until half past the hour, use -miinngaaliq- with the hour that has just been past. This gets across the idea that the naittua (little hand) is "coming from" the hour that has just been past:

uammiinngaaliqtuq It is after one.
tuajumiinngaaliqtuq It is after twelve.
tuumiinngaaliqtuq It is after two.

When we get to half past the hour, the naittua is now on its way towards the next hour.  So we use the hour that is coming up with the affixes -muuq- + -liq-.  When they are put together, they indicate that someone is on their way somewhere but hasn't reached their destination yet:

KimmirumuuliqtugutWe are on our way to Kimmirut.
tuumuuliqtuqliterally, 'it is approaching 2 o'clock''
iliapamuuliqtuqIt is approaching 11 o'clock.

Note that when these three affixes are added to numbers that end in a consonant, they delete the final consonant:

tuajumuuliqtuqIt is approaching 12 o'clock.
tuajumuuqtuqIt is 12 o'clock.
tuajamiinngaaliqtuqIt is after 12 o'clock.

Next, let's look at the ending -qat, which is used to talk about events that will happen tomorrow or in the future:

qatsimuuqqa? What time is it ?
uamuuqtuq.It is 1:00.
At what time (will something be happening)?
Uamuuqqat.At 1:00.


As you can see in the examples above, -qat can be used both to ask a question and to make a statement.

As for events in the past:

qatsimuurngat?At what time (did it happen)?
2-muurngat.At 2:00.
After 2:00
Before 2.

You can see that -ngat changes the final q of roots to r.