Grammar » 41 » Telling Time

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

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

He/she 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 tuumuuqtuq
It's one o'clock. 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":

He/she came from the store.

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

kaapiturvik + miinngaaq + liq + tuq = kaapiturvimiinngaaliqtuq
  He/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 tuajumiinngaaliqtuq tuumiinngaaliqtuq
It is after one. It is after twelve. 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:

tuumuuliqtuq iliapamuuliqtuq
It is approaching 2 (o'clock) It 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:

tuajat twelve
tuajumuuliqtuq It is approaching 12 o'clock.
tuajumuuqtuq It is 12 o'clock.
tuajumiinngaaliqtuq It 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? Uamuuqtuq.
What time is it? It is 1:00.
Qatsimuuqqat Uamuuqqat.
At what time (will something be happening)? 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, we can use the ending -ngat:

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

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