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Ojibwe Pronouns

(last updated 06.23.17)




Demonstrative pronouns
Personal pronouns
Interrogative Pronouns
Indefinite Pronouns
Dubitative Pronouns
Pausal Pronouns




There are many different kinds of pronouns in Ojibwe: personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, indefinite pronouns, dubitative pronouns, etc.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to point out things or persons. They agree with the nouns to which they relate, and inflect for animacy, number, obviation, and remoteness from the speaker. The two demonstrative pronouns most often used, correspond roughly to English 'this (one)' and 'that (one)'. Further degrees of distance (this one over here, that one over there, etc.) can also be expressed.

 That over there

Forms of demonstrative pronouns vary in different dialects and communities.

Note that inanimate plural forms are also used to refer to an obviative noun. Although demonstrative pronouns can be used alone, they can also be used to modify a noun.

a'aw ikwe - that woman (animate)
i'iw jiimaan - that canoe (inanimate)

Ningikendaan i'iw - I know that
Gigikenimaa a'aw - You know him/her

Owaabamaan John iniw ikwewan - Jonh sees that woman (obviative)
Aaniindi gaa-ondinaman i'iw? - Where did you get it?

When placed after a noun, the noun phrase changes it's meaning from 'this/that (noun)' into 'this/that is a (noun)':

ikwe a'aw - that is a woman
jiimaan i'iw - that is a canoe



Personal Pronouns

There are seven personal pronouns in Ojibwe:

 niin   I, me
 giin  you
 wiin  he, she
 niinawind  we (exc.); we exclusive: we without you me and them
 giinawind  we (inc.); we inclusive: we with you me and you [and them]
 giinawaa  you pl., you all
 wiinawaa  they

Personal pronouns are extensively used in English to indicate who or what is involed in action or event. In Ojibwe personal pronouns are not used like that. Verbs themselves contain this information. Instead of it Ojibwe personal pronouns are often used for emphasis or contrast, or when there is no verb in the sentence.

Niwii-maajaa - I am leaving. (no personal pronoun is used)
Niin, niwii-maajaa - As for me, I'm leaving. (emphatic meaning)


Personal Pronouns of Precedence

There is a set of pronouns, combined with the partcle 'nitam' (first), expressing concepts of precedence or turn.

niinitam - me first, my turn
giinitam - you first, your turn
wiinitam - s/he first, his/her turn
niinitamawind - we (ex.) first, our (ex.) turn
giinitamawind- we (in.) first, our (in.) turn
giinitamawaa - you (pl.) first, your (pl.) turn
wiinitamawaa - they first, their turn


Personal Pronouns + 'eta' (only)

There is also another set of personal pronouns, combined with the partcle 'eta' (only), expressing concepts of 'only', or 'alone'.

niineta - only me, me alone
giineta - only you, you alone
wiineta - only him/her, s/he alone
niinetawind - only us (ex.), we (ex.) alone
giinetawind - only us (in.), we (in.) alone
giinetawaa - only you (pl.), you (pl.) alone
wiinetawaa - only them, they alone


Personal Pronouns + 'gaye' (too)

Another set of personal pronouns, combined with the partcle 'gaye', or 'ge' (also, too).

geniin - me too
gegiin - you too
gewiin - s/he too
geniinawind - we (ex.) too
giinwind - we (in.) too
gegiinawaa - you (pl.) too
gewiinwaa - they too




Interrogative Pronouns

Iterrogative pronouns are used in questions. Interrogative pronouns can be inflected for nubmer and obviation:

 Plural  Obviative
 who  awenen  awenenag  awenenan
 what  wegonen  wegonenan

awenen a'aw? - who is that?
wegonen i'iw? - what is that?



Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used to identify someone or something, who/which is unknown or not important:

awiiya - somebody
gegoo - something

Indefinite pronouns can be combined with gakina (all) and gaawiin (no):

gakina awiiya - everyone, all
gakina gegoo - everything

gaawiin awiiya - no one
gaawiin gegoo - nothing



Dubitative Pronouns

Dubitative pronouns express doubt or uncertainty about the identity of a being or thing. Dubitative pronouns can be inflected for nubmer and obviation

awegwen - whoever (singular)
awegwenag - whoever (plural)
awegwenan - whoever (obviative)

wegodogwen - whatever (singular)
wegodogwenan - whatever (plural)



Pausal Pronouns

Pausal pronouns are used as substitutes for nouns that the speaker is trying to remeber, but cannot momentarily recall. Pausal pronouns are inflected like nouns.

aya'aa - some being, "what's-his-name"
aya'aag - some beings, "what's-their-name"

ayi'ii - some thing, "whatchamacallit"
ayi'iin - some things

Pausal pronouns can also be possessed or occurring with other affixes.

nindaya'aam - my stuff, my property (animate)
odayi'iim - his stuff, his property (inanimate)



Pronouns of Kind

There are also pronouns which indicate that the person or thing referred to is of a certain type. They can be inflected for nubmer and obviation.

dino, or dinowa - kind, sort, variety (animate, inanimate)
dinowag - kind, sort, variety (animate, plural)
dinowan - kind, sort, variety (inanimate, plural)
dinowan - kind, sort, variety (obviative)

awenen dinowag? - Of what kind are they (animate)?
onow dinowan - several objects like these here



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