» Piqarnirarusit (Possessions & Relations)

Inuktut has endings that indicate who something belongs to or who someone is related to (the possessor). These endings contain a great deal of grammatical information:

1. The ending indicates who owns something or who is related to someone:

anaana mother
anaanaga my mother
anaanait your mother
anaananga his/her/its mother

2. The ending may indicate whether there is one person, two people or three or more people who own something or are related to someone:

ataataga my father
ataatavut our (3+) father
ataatavuk our (2) father

3. The ending may also indicate whether the thing that is owned or the relation is singular, dual or plural:

paniga my daughter
panikka my (3+) daughters
paniikkak my two duaghters

4. Finally, the endings indicate the role of the noun in the sentence:

basic form -ga / -ra ijiga
my eye
possessor -ma ijima
of my eye
as object -nnik ijinnik
my eye
in -nni ijinni
in my eye
from -nnit ijinnit
from my eye
to -nnut ijinnut
to my eye

The ending –ga (my) changes to –ra when it is added to a noun ending in q:


my wife

In some dialects, the –nga ending (his/her/its) can be shortened to –a:

his/her son

his/her son

This shortening of the ending cannot happen when the last vowel sound is long or a combination of vowels:


his/her grandmother

Naming the Possessor

If the possessor is a singular noun, it takes the ending –up.


Maakusiup unaanga
Mark’s harpoon

To show a possessive relation between two nouns (e.g. Mark’s harpoon), it is necessary to have both the -up ending on the possessor (Mark) and a third person possessive ending on the other noun (harpoon).

If the possessor is in the dual or the plural, though, the -up ending is not used:

angutiik umiangik
the two men’s boats

Inuit nunangat
the land of Inuit

His versus His Own

Inuktut has a set of what are called reflexive endings to talk about something that is his/her/its/their own.
These endings normally contain the affix -mi-

Piita angirramini sinilauqtuq.
Peter slept at his house (his own house).

Compare the meaning of the sentence above with the one below:

Piita Maakusiup angirrangani sinilauqtuq.
Peter slept at his house (a house belonging to Mark).

Double Possession

By using the affix -ngata, it is possible to express two or even three levels of relationships within the same sentence, i.e. when the possessor has its own possessor:

Simiuniup nunasiutinga
Simon’s car

Simiuniup nunasiutingata kiinga
The key to Simon’s car.

my mother

anaanama qulittaujanga
my mother’s parka

The plural form of the –ngata ending highlighted above is –ngita:

anaanama nukangit
my mother’s younger sisters

anaanama nukangita uingit
the husbands of my mother’s younger sisters