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Nouns in Blackfoot can be inflected for grammatical gender (animacy), number particularity, and proximity.

Noun Inflections

Grammatical Gender

Blackfoot has two noun classes: animate and inanimate.

Inanimate Nouns

Singular inanimate nouns whose stem ends in a vowel take the suffix «ᔪ»

  • ᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾᔪ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᔪ
  • ᒉᒧᐧᖹ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᒉᒧᐧᖹᔪ

«ᔪ» is realized as «ᖱ» after consonants.

  • ᑫᒣᘁ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᑫᒣᖽ
  • ᒍᐡ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᒍᖹ
  • ᓴᔭᑲᘁ<n><sg><nn> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽ

Animate Nouns

Singular animate nouns whose stem ends in a vowel take the suffix «ᖷ»

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ
  • ᑲᖺᖿ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᑲᖺᖿᖷ
  • ᖿᖾ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖿᖾᖷ

«ᖷ» is realized as «ᖳ» after consonants

  • ᖳᒣᑯᐢ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖳᒣᑯᒉ
  • ᑲᔈ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᑲᓭ
  • ᖲᑊᖾᒪᘁ<n><sg><an> ↔ ᖲᑊᖾᒪᖽ


Blackfoot distinguishes between singular and plural nouns.

Inanimate Plurals

Inanimate plurals take the suffix «ᖱᔈᒧᐧ»

  • ᓴᔭᑲᖽᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽᖱ'ᖽᐧᓭᖾᐟᔈᒧᐧ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᐟᔈᒧᐧ
  • ᖲᒉᖽᐧᘁᔈᖾᔪ<n><pl><nn> ↔ ᖲᒉᖽᐧᘁᔈᖾᐟᔈᒧᐧ

Animate Plurals

Animate plurals take the suffix «ᖱᖽᐧ»

  • ᖻᒣᔭᖷ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟᖽᐧ
  • ᑲᖺᖾ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᑲᖺᖾᐟᖽᐧ
  • ᖿᖾ<n><pl><an> ↔ ᖿᖾᐟᖽᐧ

Particular vs. Non-Referring

If a noun refers to a specific entity, such as in the sentence 'I like this dog,' it is said to be particular. If it refers to a more general class of entities, such as in the sentence 'I like dogs,' it is said to be non-referring. Particular nouns do not change their form, but non-referring nouns take the suffix «ᖱ»

Non-Referring Nouns

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><nr> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn><nr> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᐟ
  • ᖻᒣᔭᖷ<n><pl><an><nr> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᐟ

Major Third Person vs. Minor Third Person

When a sentence has two or more animate nouns, one must be marked major, which indicates that it is more prominent in the current portion of the discourse, and the others must be marked as minor third person, which indicates that they are less prominent. Any animate noun marked by a possessive must by default be demoted to minor third person status. The minor third person may also be referred to as the obviative or the fourth person. For my purposes, I will tag major third person as <p3> and minor third person as <p4>.

Major Third Person

The animate singular suffix «ᖷ» doubles as the major third person suffix.

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><p3> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ
  • ᖹᒪᒐ<n><pl><nn><p3> ↔ ᖹᒪᒐᖷ
  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><pl><an><p3> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᖷ

Minor Third Person

The minor third person suffix is «ᔪ» , which is realized as «ᖱ» after consonants.

  • ᖻᒣᔭ<n><sg><an><p4> ↔ ᖻᒣᔭᔪ
  • ᑲᖺᖾ<n><pl><an><p4> ↔ ᑲᖺᖾᔪ
  • ᓴᔭᑲᘁ<n><sg><nn><p4> ↔ ᓴᔭᑲᖽ


Intransitive Verbs


The person and number of a verb's subject are marked on the verb. These person markers serve the same function as pronouns do in more isolating languages. Independent pronouns do exist in Blackfoot, but they are typically only used for emphasis. (See section X)

Verb agreement affixes
Subject person <sg> English <pl> English
<p1> ᖹᐨ- 'I' ᖹᐨ-...-ᑊᑯᖻᖻ 'we(excl)'
<p2> ᖽᐨ- 'you' ᖽᐨ-...-ᑊᑫ=ᖷ 'you(pl)'
<p21> -- -- -ᖲ'ᑫ 'we(incl)'
<p3> -ᖷ '(s)he' -ᔪ 'they'
<p4> -ᔪᖹ '(s)he' -ᔪ 'they'
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐠᔪ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p2> ↔ ᖽᒣᐠᔪ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><sg><p3> ↔ ᖳᐠᔪᔦᖷ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑯᖻᖻ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p2> ↔ ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫᙿᖷ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><21> ↔ ᖳᐠᔭ'ᑫ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p3> ↔ ᖳᐠᔪᔦᖷ

Predicate adjectives and nominatives as intransitive verbs

In Blackfoot, intransitive verbs can serve the same function English's predicate adjectives and nominatives. For example, the qualities of being tall and being a woman are both expressed through verbs.

Adjectival verbs

  • ᔈᑯᒣ 'tall' <vblex><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᐨᔈᑯᒣ 'I am tall'
  • ᓴᖿ'ᑯᐧ 'nice' <vblex><sg><p2> ↔ ᖽᒪᐧᖿ'ᑯᐧ 'You are nice'
  • ᓱᖽᐧᖻᒧᐧ 'black' <vblex><nn><sg><p1> ↔ ᓱᖽᐧᖻᒧᐧᖷ 'It[inanimate] is black'

Verbs derived from nouns

Intransitive verbs are derived from nouns by adding the suffix «ᔪ», along with the appropriate subject agreement markers, to the noun stem.

  • ᖳᖽ 'woman' <n><pl><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᖽᔪᑊᑯᖻᐡ 'we are women'
  • ᖱᖻ 'chief' <n><sg><p2><fut> ↔ ᖽᒣᖳᖽᐧᖻᔪ 'you will be chief'
  • ᖳᐟᖿᙿ 'girl' <n><sg><p1> ↔ ᖹᒣᐟᖿᙿᔪ 'I am tall'

Tense and Aspect

Future tense

Future tense is marked by the prefix «ᔦᘁ». As is the case with all semivowels in Blackfoot the initial [j] is deleted when the prefix appears directly after a consonant.

  • ᖱᑯ <vblex><sg><p2><fut> ↔ ᖽᒣᖽᐧᑯ
  • ᖱᒧᐧᖹᖽ <vblex><sg><p1><fut> ↔ ᖹᒣᖽᒧᐧᖹᖽ
  • ᖱᖻᖾ <vblex><neg><sg><p3><fut> ↔ ᖳᖿᐧᔪᖻᖾᖷ

Imminent future

The imminent future marker «ᖳᔦᘁ» is used to indicate that an action will occur shortly after the speaking event.

  • ᖱᑊᑯᔪ<vblex><sg><p1><ftim> ↔ ᖹᒣᔦᖽᑊᑯᔪ
  • ᖷᓭᐟ'ᖹ<vblex><sg><p3><ftim> ↔ ᖷᓭᐟ'ᖹᖷ
  • ᖳᐠᔪ<vblex><pl><p1><ftim> ↔ ᖹᒣᔦᖿᐠᔪᑊᑯᖻᖻ

Durative aspect

If a verb denotes an event that is ongoing or continuous in nature, it needs a durative marker, the prefix «ᖳ».

  • ᔪᒍ<vblex><sg><p2><dr> ↔ ᖽᒣᔪᒍ
  • ᖲᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ<vblex><sg><p1><dr> ↔ ᖹᒣᐠᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ
  • ᖱᑊᑯᔪ<vblex><pl><p2><dr> ↔ ᖽᒣᐟᑊᑯᔪᑫᙿᖷ

The durative can also be combined with the future tense like so:

  • ᖲᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ<vblex><pl><p21><fut><dr> ↔ ᖳᖿᐠᘁᔈᖿ'ᓴ'ᑫ

Perfective aspect

The prefix «ᖳᖿ» is used to indicate that an action has been completed at the time of the utterance.

  • ᔭ'ᖿ<vblex><pl><p21><perf> ↔ ᖳᖿᔭ'ᖿᐠ'ᑫ
  • ᖱᑲᒣ<vblex><sg><p3><perf> ↔ ᖳᖿᐟᑲᒣᖷ
  • ᖱᖹᑊᖽ<vblex><sg><p3><perf> ↔ ᖳᖿᐟᖹᑊᖽᖷ

The perfective prefix has a variant, «ᖱᖿ», that is used when preceded by another prefix, such as one that marks person or negation.

  • ᖱᑊᑯᔪ <vblex><neg><sg><p3><perf> ↔ ᒉᒧᐧᖿᐟᑊᑯᔪᖷ
  • ᖲ'ᒪᑊ <vblex><pl><p1><perf> ↔ ᖹᖿᐠ'ᒪᑊᑯᖻᐡ
  • ᔪᒍ <vblex><sg><p3><perf> ↔ ᖽᖿᔪᒍ

The perfect aspect can also be combined with the future tense like so:

  • ᑯᑊᒧᐧᔪ<vblex><sg><p3><fut><perf> ↔ ᖳᖽᐧᖿᐠᖿ'ᑯᑊᒧᐧᔪᖷ

Past tense

Past tense can be expressed one of two ways:

  1. By the mere absence of any other tense or aspect marker (this is most common)
  2. By adding the prefix «ᖱ», if the stem begins with a consonant, or if it begins with a vowel, replacing the stem initial vowel with «ᖱ»
  • ᖲᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ <vblex><sg><p1><past> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ
  • ᖲᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱ<vblex><sg><p3><past> ↔ ᖱᘁᔈᖿ'ᓱᖷ
  • ᖳᓭᐟ'ᖹ <vblex><sg><p2><past> ↔ ᖽᒧᓭᐟ'ᖹ

Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs must agree with both their subject and their object.

Inanimate objects

If a verb's object is inanimate, the verb must have the appropriate person-marking prefix, a transitive inanimate (TI) theme suffix in which person and number is also encoded, and a suffix marking the number of the object.

The following chart shows the TI theme suffixes for every combination of person and number:

Subject person/number <sg> <pl>
<p1> «ᑊᐤ» «ᑊᑯᖻᐡ»
<p2> «ᑊᐤ» «ᑊᑫᙿ»
<p21> -- «'ᐤ»
<p3> «ᒉᙿ» «ᒍᑉ»
<p4> «ᒍᑉᖹ» «ᒍᑉ»

Note: In actual speech, the suffixes «ᒉᙿ», «ᒍᑉ», and «ᒍᑉᖹ» are realized as «ᒉ», «ᒍ» , and «ᒍᖹ» respectively, because of semi-vowel loss after consonants.

Object Suffixes

TI verbs that take singular objects take the suffix «ᖷ», realized as «ᖳ» after consonants due to semi-vowel loss.

  • ᖱᖾᖹ <vblex><sg><p2><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖾᖹᑊᑫᙿᖷ
  • ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪ <vblex><sg><p1><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖺᒪᐧᑊᑲᒉᒪᑊᑫ
  • ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧ <vblex><pl><p1><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖹᒣ'ᑯᔈᒪᓱᑊᑯᖻᖻ

Major and minor third person(a.k.a third and fourth person)verbs do not take an object affix.

  • ᖱᖾᖹ <vblex><sg><p3><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖱᖾᖹᒉ
  • ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪ <vblex><sg><p3><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪᒉ
  • ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧ <vblex><pl><p4><ti><obsg> ↔ ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧᒍᖹ
Singular Object Forms (verb: ᖳᐠᔪ 'eat')
Subject person/number <sg> <pl>
<p1> ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫ ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑊᑯᖻᖻ
<p2> ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫ ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫᙿᖷ
<p21> -- ᖳᐠᔪ'ᑫ
<p3> ᖳᐠᔪᖷ ᖳᐠᔪᔪ
<p4> ᖳᐠᔪᔪᖹ ᖳᐠᔪᔪ

TI verbs that take plural objects take the suffix «ᔪ», realized as «ᖱ» after consonants due to semi-vowel loss.

  • ᖱᖾᖹ <vblex><sg><p2><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖾᖹᑊᑫᙿᔪ
  • ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪ <vblex><sg><p1><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖺᒪᐧᑊᑲᒉᒪᑊᑯ
  • ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧ <vblex><pl><p1><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖹᒣ'ᑯᔈᒪᓱᑊᑯᖻᖹ

Major and minor third person(a.k.a third and fourth person)verbs do not take an object affix.

  • ᖱᖾᖹ <vblex><sg><p3><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖱᖾᖹᒉ
  • ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪ <vblex><sg><p3><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖲᑊᑲᒉᒪᒉ
  • ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧ <vblex><pl><p4><ti><obpl> ↔ ᖳ'ᑯᔈᒪᒧᐧᒍᖹ
Plural Object Forms (verb: ᖳᐠᔪ 'eat')
Subject person/number <sg> <pl>
<p1> ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑊᑯ ᖹᒣᐠᔪᑊᑯᖻᖹ
<p2> ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑯ ᖽᒣᐠᔪᑊᑫᙿᔪ
<p21> -- ᖳᐠᔪ'ᑯ
<p3> ᖳᐠᔪᖷ ᖳᐠᔪᔪ
<p4> ᖳᐠᔪᔪᖹ ᖳᐠᔪᔪ

Animate objects

First and second person singular subjects

Transitive animate(TA) verbs with first and second person singular subjects take a prefix marking the person of the subject and and a suffix marking the person and number of its object.

  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><sg><p1><ta><obsg><obp3> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖷ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><sg><p1><ta><obpl><obp3> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᔪ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ <vblex><sg><p2><ta><obsg><obp3> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖷ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><sg><p2><ta><obpl><obp3> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᔪ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><sg><p1><ta><obsg><obp4> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᔪᖹ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><sg><p1><ta><obpl><obp3> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᔪ

First and second person plural subjects

TA verbs with plural first and second person subjects take plural-marking suffixes in addition to the affixes listed above. These pluralizers are similar to the ones found on TI verbs, but they lack the suffix-initial «ᑊᐤ». First person plural subjects require the suffix «ᖻᐡ».

  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p1><ta><obsg><obp3> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖻᖻ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p1><ta><obpl><obp3> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖻᖹ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p1><ta><obsg><obp4> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖻᖹᖹ

Second person plural subjects require the suffix «ᖷ».

  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p2><ta><obsg><obp3> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖷᖷ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p2><ta><obpl><obp3> ↔ ᖽᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖷᔪ
  • ᖱᖿᖾᒍᒉ<vblex><pl><p2><ta><obsg><obp4> ↔ ᖹᒧᐧᖿᖾᒍᒉᖷᔪᖹ