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:
|ᒌᔮᓂᐤ||chiiyaaniu||21p||you and me (we, including you)|
|ᒌᔨᐧᐋᐤ||chiiyiwaau||2p||you-all (but not me)|
|ᓃᔮᓐ||niiyaan||1p||we (but not you)|
|ᐧᐄᔨ||wiiyi||3||she, he, it (proximate animate singular)|
|ᐧᐄᔨᐧᐋᐤ||wiiyiwaau||3p||they (proximate animate plural)|
|ᐊᐧᐋᔨᐤᐦ||awaayiuh||3′(p) or 4(p)||the other person (obviative animate singular or plural)|
|ᐊᐧᐋᔨᐤᐦ||awaayiuh||5(p)||another other person – for example someone else’s son (further obviative animate singular or plural)|
|ᒑᐧᑳᓐ||chaakwaan||0||it (proximate inanimate singular)|
|ᒑᐧᑳᓂᐦᐄ||chaakwaanihii||0p||they (proximate inanimate plural)|
|ᒑᐧᑳᔨᐤ||chaakwaayiu||0′||the other thing (obviative inanimate singular)|
|ᒑᐧᑳᓂᐦᐄ||chaakwaanihii||0’p||the other things (obviative ianimate plural)|
Cree makes several distinctions that do not exist in English. The plural ‘you’ distinguishes between ᒌᔮᓂᐤ chiiyaanui ‘you and me’ and ᒌᔨᐧᐋᐤ chiiyiwaau ‘you all, but not me’. The distinction is about whether ‘I’ the speaker, is included or not. This distinction is often refered to in the linguistic literature by contrasting ᒌᔮᓂᐤ chiiyaaniu and ᓃᔮᓐ and saying that ᒌᔮᓂᐤ chiiyaaniu 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. 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.