Cree verb classes

Observation
ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐧᐁᐤ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinahweu. She writes him (his name) down.
ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒻ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaham. She is writing it.
ᒪᓯᓈᓲ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaasuu. She (her name) is written down.
ᒪᓯᓈᑌᐤ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaateu. It is written.

Where English uses the same verb to write, Cree makes a difference depending on two factors: transitivity and gender.

Based on the number of roles that a verb has and the gender (animate, inanimate) of these roles, four main classes of verbs can be established.

Animate Inanimate
One Role (Intransitive) Animate Intransitive (VAI) Inanimate Intransitive (VII)
ᒪᓯᓈᓲ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaasuu. ᒪᓯᓈᑌᐤ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaateu.
Two Roles (Transitive) Transitive Animate (VTA) Transitive Inanimate (VTI)
ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐧᐁᐤ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinahweu. ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐊᒻ᙮ Click here to hear this word masinaham.

Most verbs will have specific forms for each of these classes: VII, VTI, VTA or VAI, identified by different endings and different stems (see the pages on Verb Stems and Verb Inflection).

The following Cree definitions are suggested for these four classes:

Verb ᐃᐦᑐᐧᐃᓐ ihtuwin
VII (Inanimate Intransitive) ᐁ ᐃᔅᐸᔨᐦᒡ/ᐁ ᐃᔑᓈᑯᐦᒡ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ᙮ e ispayihch/e ishinaakuhch chekwaan.
VAI (Animate Intransitive) ᐁ ᐃᐦᑎᑦ ᐊᐧᐁᓐ᙮ e ihtit awen.
VTI (Transitive Inanimate) ᐁ ᐃᐦᑑᑕᐦᒃ ᒉᐧᑳᔫ᙮ e ihtuutahk chekwaayuu.
VTA (Transitive Animate) ᐁ ᐃᐦᑑᑕᐧᐋᑦ ᐊᐧᐁᔫᐦ᙮ e ihtuutawaat aweyuuh

All verbs in the Cree dictionary are classified according to those classes, plus an additional one called VAI+O: Verb Animate Intransitive plus Object.

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