Grammar » 32 » If and when...

Inuktut has a series of endings to talk about events that have not yet happened:

UKâlaguvit, Kailangajunga.
if / when you call, I will come.


Depending on the context, these endings can be translated in English as "when something happens..." or "if something happens..."


You will notice that these endings are very similar to those used to express the idea of because/when:

uKâlak - to call someone on the phone

uKâlaguma if/when I call
uKâlaguvit if/when you call
uKâlaguni / uKâlappat * if/when he/she calls
uKâlagunnuk if/when the two of us call
uKâlagutta if/when we (3+) call
uKâlagutsik if/when two of you call
uKâlagutsi if/when you (3+) call
uKâlagutik / uKâlappatik * if/when they (2) call
uKâlagutik / uKâlappata * if/when they (3+) call

* -guni, and -gutik can only be used when the subject of the verb they are attached to is the same person who is the subject of the verb in the main sentence:

Peta piujiguni, nigitsianiattuk.
If Peter gets a seal, he (Peter) will eat well.

If there is a change in who you are speaking about in the sentence, the endings -ppat, -ppatik or -ppata must be used.

Peta piujippat, nigitsianiakKugut.
If Petrer gets a seal, we will eat well.

All of the above endings can also be used to express the idea in English of 'when something will happen.'

In this sense, these endings describe an event that is anticipated in the future. Compare these two sentences:

Aullagutta sininiattut. When we depart they will be sleeping (the action of departing has not yet happened).
Aullagatta sinikKaujut. When we departed they were sleeping (the action of departing has already happened).