Grammar » future events

Inuktut has a series of endings to talk about events that have not yet happened:

Uqaalaguvit, qailangajunga. if / when you call, I will come.


Depending on the context, these endings can be translated in English as "when something happens..." or "if something happens..."


Inuktut does not make this distinction. Instead, these endings convey the idea that the events that they describe are not real because they have yet to take place.


uqaala - to call someone on the phone


uqaalaguma if/when I call
uqaalaguvit if/when you call
uqaalappat if/when he/she calls
uqaalagunnuk if/when the two of us call
uqaalagutta if/when we (3+) call
uqaalaguttik if/when two of you call


if/when you (3+) call
uqaalappata if all of them call

Two of the above endings start with p, the others start with g. This is important because they behave differently as we will see below.

1. Adding these affixes to roots ending in q:
The basic endings that begin with g change to r. The last consonant of the root is deleted:

Nattiruvit, niritsiarniaqtugut. If you get a seal, we will eat well.
Quvianalaarmijualuk ammuumajjialirutta. It will be a lot of fun if/when we go clam digging.

The basic endings that begin with p change to q.

Aniniaqtunga 11-miinngaaliqqat. I will go out after 11.
Pijariiqqata, qailangajut. If/when they are finished, they will come.

2. Adding these affixes to roots ending in t:
The basic endings that begin with g change to k. The last consonant of the root also changes to k:

 Tikikkuma niuvirvimmuurniaqtunga. If/when I arrive, I will go to the store.

The basic endings that begin with p are unchanged.  They delete the last consonant of the root:

Aullalaaqtugut ulippat​​​​​​​. We will depart when the tide is high.