|ᓂᐧᐋᐸᒫᐅᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ᙮||niwaapamaauch anichii awaashach.||I see those children.|
|ᓂᐧᐋᐸᐦᑌᓐ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ᙮||niwaapahten aniyuuh maschisinh.||I see those shoes.|
In the examples above, ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ awashach ‘children’ and ᐊᐧᐊᔕᒡ maschisinh ‘shoes’ do not have the same plural endings: -ach and -h. Notice also that different verb forms are used.
Nouns in East Cree fall into two classes: ANIMATE (eg. children) and INANIMATE (eg. shoe).
|Noun Animate (na)|
|ᐯᔭᒄ ᐊᐧᐋᔥ||peyakw awaash||one child|
|ᓃᔓ ᐊᐧᐋᔕᒡ||niishu awaashach||two children|
|Noun Inanimate (ni)|
|ᐯᔭᒄ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ||peyakw maschisin||one shoe|
|ᓃᔓ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ||niishu maschisinh||two shoes|
The plural ending -ach is used with the animate stem ᐊᐧᐊᔥ awaash and the plural ending -h is used with the inanimate stem ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ maschisin.
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.
|ᐸᔨᒌᔅ||payichiis||pair of pants|
|ᐸᔨᒌᓴᒡ||payichiisach||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:
|ᓂᐧᐋᐸᒫᐤ ᐊᐧᐋᔥ||niwaapamaau awaash||(animate)||I see a child|
|ᓂᐧᐋᐸᐦᑌᓐ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐ||niwaapahten maschisin||(inanimate)||I see a shoe|
Animate and inanimate nouns also have their own sets of demonstrative pronouns:
|ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᐧᐋᔕᒡ||anichii awaashach||(animate plural)||those children|
|ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒪᔅᒋᓯᓐᐦ||aniyuuh maschisinh||(inanimate plural)||those shoes|