Intransitive Verbs

Remember those dreaded grammar lessons from elementary school? Remember learning about verbs? If you can conjure up memories of those times without cringing or falling asleep then you’ll remember that a verb is an action word. It conveys the core meaning of the sentence.

In Iñupiat, there are two types of verbs: transitive and intransitive. An intransitive verb doesn’t carry action from one noun directly to another. For instance, in English we have the intransitive verbs ‘talk,’ ‘smile,’ ‘arrive,’ and ‘study.’

Laura is talking.

Max smiled.

The car arrived at the house.

The students are studying in the library.

These verbs do not carry/ transfer the action from the subject to anything else.


In an Iñupiat dictionary, you won’t likely find a verb in its complete form. You’ll find a verb stem. This is the base form of the verb, without any endings to make it a complete word. When speaking Iñupiatun, you cannot use a verb stem on its own. It needs an ending to make it a complete sentence. Below is the basic recipe for an intransitive sentence.

stem + ending = complete sentence.

You must take a verb in its stem form

Verb: SuraġaunEnglish Translation
uqaq-to talk
iglaŋa-to smile
tikit-to arrive
iḷisaq-to study

add the appropriate ending

Marker Number



t/ru
q
k
t
sg
du
pl
tin
sik
si
sg
du
pl
ŋa
guk
gut
sg
du
pl

In an earlier lesson, you learned about assimilation. Here is how assimilation works with verb stems and verb endings.

General Rule: If a verb stem ends in

Vowel: add an ending that begins with ‘r’. Ex. Iglaŋa- +ruq = Iglaŋaruq

Consonant: add an ending that begins with ‘t.’ Ex.  Uqaq- +tuq = Uqaqtuq

However, certain verb stems change the verb ending.

Verbs that end in ‘Ik’ or ‘Iq’ (remember that strong I), get an ending that starts with ‘s’. The ‘t’ changes to an ‘s’. Ex. SivunnIq- +tuq = SivunnIqsuq (‘He/she decided’)

and tara, there is your sentence!

Laura uqaqtuq

Max iglaŋaruaq.

Qamun tikitchuq iglumun.

Iḷisaqtuat iḷisaqtut makpiġaaqaġvik.


Practice!