Verb forms vary depending on the person and number (singular or plural) of the subject and sometimes those of the object, as well as the order, the mood and the tense.

The variations between the different singular and plural person inflections are indicated in the following table, along with their abbreviations in column 3:

VERB PERSON INFLECTION
1. Pronoun 2. Meaning 3. Person 4. Verb Form 5. Translation
niń me 1 nitatussen I work
tshiń you (sg.) 2 tshitatussen you work
uiń him 3 atusseu he works
neńua that one (the other one) 4(p) atusseńua he (the other one) works
neńua that one (the other one) 5 atusseńua he (the other one) works
nińan us, but without you (sg.) or you (pl.) (1Pe) 1p nitatussenan we work
tshińanu you (sg.) and me, or you (pl.) and me, or us and you (sg.), or us and you (pl.) (1Pi) 21p tshitatussenan we work
tshińuau you (pl.) 2p tshitatussenau you work
uińuau them 3p atusseuat they work

REMARKS AND EXPLANATIONS

Column 1 indicates the personal pronoun corresponding with each verb person, except the 4th person (the obviative) for which there is no personal pronoun, but which can correspond to a demonstrative in the obviative (neńua). These pronouns are not necessary for conjugating a verb, unlike in French.

Column 2 gives the corresponding meaning of each person.

Column 3 presents the notations used in conjugations (paradigms) to indicate the subject’s person, or those of the subject and complement in the case of TA (transitive animate) verbs, as in example (1) that follows:

EXAMPLE (1) OF THE VERBE ‘TO SEE SOMEONE’, TA VERB CONJUGATED TO A FEW PERSON INFLECTIONS
2-1 tshuapamin you (sg) see me 2nd person singular subject
1st person singular complement
1-2 tshuapamitin I see you (sg) 1st person singular subject
2nd person singular complement
2(p)-1p tshuapaminan you (sg) see us or you (pl) see us 2nd person singular or plural subject
1st person plural (exclusive, 1Pe) complement
2-3 tshuapamau you (sg) see him 1st person singular subject
3rd person singular complement
1-3p nuapamauat I see them 1st person singular subject
3rd person plural complement

The notation in column 3 is explained as follows:

  • 1, 2, 3 and 4 are the singular person inflections;
  • 1p, 2p, 3p, 4p, 21p are the plural person inflections.
  • Some person inflections presented in column 3 of the table are specific to Innu (and to Algonquian languages).
    • In English, we can mean both cases that include the interlocutor (you and me and the others) and cases that exclude them (me and others, but not your). The Innu language expressed the difference:
    • The 1Pi ou 21p notations correspond to what we call the 1st person plural inclusive, including both me or us and you (sg.) and you (pl.) (the speaker and the interlocutor). It translates to we in English but as the prefix tshi- shows, from the point of view of the Innu language, thsiń (2) includes niń (1). The 21p notation reflects this as well (2+1).
    • The 1p or 1Pe notation corresponds to the 1st person plural inclusive, so-called because it excludes the interlocutor. It translates as we in English.
    • The 4 notation, or 4st person, is also called obviative.
      • We use it when there is more than one 3rd person as the verb’s subject or its complement: the second 3rd person then becomes a 4th person.
      • In Innu, a distinct plural obviative form (4p) only exists in connection with certain II verbs. Otherwise, the form can either denote the singular or the plural, which is why we have the 4(p) notation.
      • If there is already a 4th person, we can then have a 5th person (person 5) or even a 6th person.
EXAMPLE (2) OF THE VERB ‘TO SEE SOMEONE’ USING OBVIATIVES
3p-4 uapameuat they see someone else 3rd person plural subject
4th person singular complement
3p-5 uapamimeuat they see someone else (e.g. someone’s brother) 3rd person plural subject
5th person singular complement
4-5 uapameńua someone else sees someone else 4th person plural subject
5th person singular complement
4-6 uapamimeńua someone else sees someone else 4e person plural subject
6th person singular complement

The person is marked by suffixes on verbs of all conjugations, and by prefixes in conjugations of the Independent Order.

The ends of verbs (or suffixes) give information on the person, order, mood, and tense. In the case of the conjunct and imperative orders, as there are no person prefixes, the endings indicate the person.