Grammar » two things happending at the same time

This grammar note is available in the South Qikiqtaaluk dialect only.

 

In Inuktitut, as in English, we often describe two actions that are happening at the same time:

ate as I walked. While he was reading, he fell asleep 

In English, we indicate that two actions are happening at the same time by putting a conjunction (as, while, when, etc.) before one of them.

In Inuktitut, instead of using a conjunction, we use a special ending on one of the verbs to indicate that it is happening (or happened) at the same time as the other verb in the sentence:

Pisulauqtunga nirillunga.I  walked as I ate.
Uqalimaaqtuni sinililauqtuqWhile he was reading, he fell asleep.

Here is a list of these “conjunctive” verb endings that can be added to roots ending in vowels:

nirillungawhile I was eating...
nirillutit while you were eating ...
nirilluni       
while he was eating ...
nirillunuk  while the two of us were eating ...
nirilluta while we (3+) were eating ...
nirillusik
while the two of you were eating...
nirillusi
while you (3+) were eating ...
nirillutikwhile the two of them were eating ...
nirillutikwhile they (3+) were eating ...

Remember that when you come across one of these verb endings it means that the action being described is happening at the same time as the other action in the sentence.

The affixes above are used with verbs that end in a vowel.  When working with a verb that ends in a consonant, the beginning of the affix changes from ll to t:

 uqaq- to speak
uqaqtungawhile I was speaking ...
uqaqtutit   
while you were speaking ...
uqaqtuniwhile he was speaking ...
uqaqtunuk 
while the two of us were speaking ...
uqaqtutawhile we (3+) were speaking ...
uqaqtusi while you (3+) were speaking ...
uqaqtutikWhile the two of them were speaking ...
uqaqtutik   
While they (3+) were speaking ...

 

Important: The above endings are used when the two actions that appear in a sentence are performed by the same person.

Pisuktuni tikittuq
He arrived walking (He arrived on foot).
Isiqtutik ijukkalauqtut As they were coming in, they fell.

If we want to describe two actions that happened at the same time but that were performed by different people we add -ti- before the conjunctive ending:

Aanniaqtillunga sanalaunngittuq.When I was sick, she didn’t work.
Uqaqtillutit sinilauqtut.While you were speaking they fell asleep.
Aullaqsimatilluta sulauqqit?When we were away, what did you do?

The -ti- ending can be directly added to a root ending in a verb or a consonant without affecting the spelling.

There is one form of this verb ending that is irregular. 

-luni  becomes -tillugu
niritillugu miqsulauqtuq While he ate she sewed.

The -tillugu ending is especially useful for describing what the weather was doing or what time it was when something else happened:

Silaluttillugu aullalauqtunga.It was raining when I departed.
 Piqsiqtillugu tikittugut. It was blizzarding when we arrived.
9-miinngaaqtillugu tupaqqaujutit
It was after nine when you woke up.