|ᓂᐧᐋᐱᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ᙮||niwaapimaawich anichii awaashishich.||I see those children.|
|ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᐊᓂᐦᐄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ᙮||niwaapihtaan anihii mischinh.||I see those shoes.|
In the examples above, ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ awaashishich ‘children’ and ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ mischinh ‘shoes’ do not have the same plural endings: -ich and -h. Notice also that different verb forms are used.
Nouns in East Cree fall into two classes: ANIMATE (children) and INANIMATE (shoe).
|Noun Animate (na)|
|ᐹᔨᒄ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ||paayikw awaashish||one child|
|ᓃᔓ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ||niishu awaashishich||two children|
|Noun Inanimate (ni)|
|ᐹᔨᒄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐ||paayikw mischin||one shoe|
|ᓃᔓ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ||niishu mischinh||two shoes|
The plural ending -ich is used with the animate stem ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ awaashish and the plural ending -h is used with the inanimate stem mischin.
Animate nouns are used for humans, animals, and in general all living creatures, including trees and some plants. Also included are some personal belongings such as pants and sleds. (animate)
|ᐱᔨᒌᔅ||piyichiis||pair of pants|
|ᐱᔨᒌᓯᒡ||piyichiisich||pair(s) of pants|
However, unless you are a fluent speaker, you can never know for sure if something is going to be animate or inanimate in the language. This is why we say that GENDER is a grammatical distinction. It is a distinction made in the language, not necessarily always in the outside world.
Animate and inanimate nouns are used with different verbs:
|ᓂᐧᐋᐱᒫᐤ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔥ||niwaapimaau awaashish||(animate)||I see a child|
|ᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑖᓐ ᒥᔅᒋᓐ||niwaapihtaan mischin||(inanimate)||I see a shoe|
Animate and inanimate nouns also have their own sets of demonstrative pronouns:
|ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔑᔑᒡ||anichii awaashishich||(animate plural)||those children|
|ᐊᓂᐦᐄ ᒥᔅᒋᓐᐦ||anihii mischinh||(inanimate plural)||those shoes|