Lesson 12: Departure and arrival

'He will leave.'
wa'pahke' wi'-sipwe'hte'w
'He is going to leave tomorrow.', 'He wants to leave tomorrow.'
'He (just now) left.'
'He left (some time ago).'
'Let's leave'
'He (just now) arrived.'
ki'-takosin na
'Did he arrive (some time ago)?'
kiki'-takosinin na
'Did you arrive (some time ago)?'
mwe'hci n(i)takosinin
'I just now arrived.'
wa'pahke' ta-takosinwak
'They will arrive tomorrow.'
'He went in (just now).'
'He went in (some time ago).'
'He (just now) came in.'
'He came in (some time ago).'
'He went out (just now).'
a'say ki'-sipwe'hte'w n(i)pa'pa'
'My father has already left.'
sipwe'hte'w kipa'pa'
'Your father left (just now).'
mwe'hci takosin kima'ma'
'Your mother just now arrived.'
kima'ma' mwe'hci pe'-takosin
'Your mother just now arrived (here).'
ta-takosinwak awa's(i)sak wa'pahke'
'The children will arrive tomorrow.'
wa'pahke' ta-takosinwak awa's(i)sak
'The children will arrive tomorrow.'
mwac ta-pe'-ki'we'w n(i)pa'pa' wa'pahke'
'My father won't come home tomorrow.'

New Words


'your mother'
'your father'




'now, already'
'just now'


There are two important differences in the way Cree and English present tenses are used.

  1. In English, the present tense is often used for future time, especially when other words make the time clear. For example, to express the meaning of sentences 2 and 20-22, the English-speaking person can just as well say 'He is leaving tomorrow.', 'The children are arriving tomorrow.', and 'My father isn't coming home tomorrow.'

    In Cree, the present tense can never refer to future time! wi'- or ta- must always be used with a verb referring to future time!
  2. On the other hand, Cree uses the present tense not only for something that is happening right now, but also for something that has just now happened (sentences 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17-19). The past tense in Cree is used only for something that happened longer ago than just now (sentences 4, 7, 8, 12, 14, 16).

    (No attempt is made in the remainder of this work to specify both of the possible meanings of each verb in the present tense, nor to remind the student with each past tense that it refers to events happening longer ago than just now.)

The verbs that end in sini, like takosin 'arrive', are slightly irregular. Instead of taking the suffix -w 'he, she', they drop the final i (sentence 6), and they also drop the i before -wak 'they' (sentence 10).

A verb of going is changed to a verb of coming by adding the prefix pe-, thus pi'htikwe' 'go in', pe'-pi'htikwe' 'come in', ki'we' 'go home', pe'-ki'we' 'come home', takosin 'arrive (there)', pe'takosin 'arrive (here)'. Note that pe'- follows the other prefixes.

Beginning with this section, usually only 'he' is written in translations, but it should be understood that 'she' is equally possible.


  1. Say all the verbs in this lesson with each of the four indicative pronoun affixes. Say them all in the present; then say one each in the past and future.
  2. Take sentences 16-22 and replace the subject noun in each by the Cree for each of the following:
  3. Do the same with sentences 30-37 in section 11.

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