Transitive Verbs

To learn about intransitive verbs, go here.

Ok, here’s a quick rundown of what transitive verbs are. Remember that verbs carry action. Intransitive verbs do not transfer the action directly to an object. However, transitive verbs do. Take the English verbs ‘help,’ ‘eat,’ and ‘see.’

‘Ted is helping Barney and Robin.’

‘Marshall is eating three pancakes.’

‘Lily sees a picture.’

Ted-gum ikayuġaik Barney-lu Robin-lu.

Marshall-gum niġigai siḷaavyaich piŋasut.

Lily-m qiñiġaa qiñiġaaq.

In order to create transitive sentences, you need a minimum of three ingredients:

  1. transitive verb
  2. relative noun
  3. direct object

Transitive verbs take endings that are different from intransitive verb endings. These verb endings indicate the person and number. This lesson will cover indicative verb endings.

Remember that you must begin crafting your sentence with a verb stem and complete it with a verb ending. There are a number of postbases that can be added in between, but right now we will focus on this formula:

verb stem + ending = sentence

ikayuq ‘to help’ + ai ‘3rd sing – 3rd pl’ = ikayuÄ¡ai ‘He/she is helping them.’



For verb endings, we’ll use a chart similar to the intransitive verb chart.

Transitive Verb Endings

3rd Person2nd Person1st Person
1st Personsingularigaikkaitkaikpiñivsikivsi
dual ikpukivukivukivsigiñivsikivsi
2nd Personsingularinikkiñitiniŋmaivsigukivsigut
3rd Personsingularaaaikaiaatinaasikaasiaaŋaaatigukaatigut
Assimilate according to the following verb stem-finals:

Vowel: add g + ending
Consonants: add k + ending
k: add k + ending
It (Strong I): palatalize t to ch + ending
q: assimilate q to Ä¡, add ending

Assimilation Examples:

ai- “to fetch (someone/something)”

Aigiga utkusik.

paqit- “to find (someone/something)”

Paqitkaa tammaqtuaq

SuÅ‹It- “to not say/do anything (to someone/something)”

SuÅ‹itchaat “They are not saying anything to them”

pilÌ£ak- “to butcher (a game animal)”

ullak- “to approach (someone/something)”

ullakkaatin “She is approaching you.”

qiñiq- “to watch, look at, see (someone/something)”

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



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. IglaÅ‹a- +ruq = IglaÅ‹aruq

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.