Verbs in Cree vary according to person. The person is expressed by prefixes and suffixes. The person inflection may be for actor only, or for both actor and goal. This inflection occurs in the three orders: Imperative, Independent, and Conjunct.
The Cree persons are:
|ᒌᔮᓅ||chiiyaanuu||21p||you and me (we, including you)|
|ᒌᐧᐋᐤ||chiiwaau||2p||you-all (but not me)|
|ᓃᔮᓐ||niiyaan||1p||we (but not you)|
|ᐧᐄ||wii||3||she, he, it (proximate animate singular)|
|ᐧᐄᐧᐋᐤ||wiiwaau||3p||they (proximate animate plural)|
|ᐊᐧᐁᔫᐦ||aweyuuh||3′(p)||the other person (obviative animate singular or plural)|
|ᒉᐧᑳᓐ||chekwaan||0||it (proximate inanimate singular)|
|ᒉᐧᑳᓐ||chekwaan||0p||they (proximate inanimate plural)|
|ᒉᐧᑳᔫ||chekwaayuu||0′||the other thing (obviative inanimate singular)|
|ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ||chekwaayuuh||0′p||the other things (obviative ianimate plural)|
Cree makes several distinctions that do not exist in English. The plural ‘you’ distinguishes between ᒌᔮᓅ chiiyaanuu ‘you and me’ and ᒌᐧᐋᐤ chiiwaau ‘you all, but not me’. The distinction is about whether ‘me’ the speaker, is included or not. This distinction is often refered to in the linguistic literature by contrasting ᒌᔮᓅ chiiyaanuu and ᓃᔮᓐ niiyaan and saying that ᒌᔮᓅ chiiyaanuu is a ‘we-inclusive’ and that ᓃᔮᓐ niiyaan is a ‘we-exclusive’. But the forms of the Cree pronouns and prefixes, both starting with ᒌ chi- suggests that we are rather dealing with a ‘you-inclusive of me’ and a ‘you-exclusive of me’ perspective.
Another important distinction that does not exist in English is Obviation. The third persons animate and inanimate are different because only one of them can be chosen as being talked about. The one that is being talked about is called proximate, all the other ones must be obviative and must be marked as such. (link to Obviation). Third persons are thus either proximate or obviative.
Other distinctions such as singular-plural and first-second (I-you), and third person are distinctions that are common across languages.