Possession and Ownership

Possession and ownership in Otoe-Missouria is shown in a handful of ways.  These are done through either stand-alone possessive pronouns or prefixes attached to verbs.



The easiest for new learners to understand is through the stand-alone possessive pronouns because their use is somewhat similar to how English uses possessive pronouns.  These are:


mįtawe – my

ritawe – your

ritewi – you-all’s

etawe – his/hers/its

etewi – their

hįntawe – our (2)

hįntewi (our (3+))


These terms could be used like this:


namanyi ritawe – your car

namanyi etawe – his car


Using these stand-alone possessive pronouns is the done the same way as verbs in a sentence.  The format for that is SUBJECT-OBJECT-VERB.  The above examples gave the format of OBJECT-VERB because the subject was understood.  But if we wanted to include a subject, it would look like this:


John namanyi etawe – John’s car


This is the same SUBJECT-OBJECT-VERB format that is done in a regular sentence such as:


John namanyi ada ke/ki. – John sees a car.



The possessive pronoun prefix gra- is attached to verbs and is used when the object(s) being referred to belongs to the subject.  Examples of these situations are:


I washed my hands.

You shot your gun.

He wrecked his car.


In each of those scenarios, the subject was doing something to their own object.  So instead of saying this:


Nąwe etawe ruya ke/ki. – He washed his hands.


You would say:


Nąwe gruya ke/ki. – He washed his hands.


When using gra-, a number of things can change.  For example, adding gra- to a verb like ruya has gra- merge into it like it did in the above example.  If no special merging rules need to be observed (as in the above example), then gra- is simply added to the front of the verb and then the verb is conjugated normally.  A small change occurs with the “I” (ha-), “you” (ra-), “them” (wa-), and “us” (wawa-) pronoun prefixes when used with gra-.


ha- becomes he-

ra- becomes re-

wa- becomes we-

wawa- becomes wewe-


Here is an example with the term pi ‘ų (fix – literally “make good”).


Namanyi pi gra’ų ke/ki. – He fixed his car.

Namanyi pi hegra’ų ke/ki. – I fixed my car.

Namanyi pi regra’ų ke/ki. – You fixed your car.


If the speaker wants to use possession where the subject does not have ownership of the verb, the stand-alone possessive pronouns listed above are used.  For example:


Namanyi ritawe pi ha’ų ke/ki. – I fixed your car.

Namanyi mįtawe pi ‘ų ke/ki. – She fixed my car.

Namanyi etawe pi ra’ų ke/ki. – You fixed his car.



Using the reflexive prefix gi- is one of the trickier concepts for new Otoe-Missouria learners.  This particular use of gi- reflects back to the object of a verb.  This particular use of gi- is mostly used to express “to” or “for” in a verb.  But when used to express possession, it refers back to the object.  For example:


Thi hįngipi ke/ki. – My foot is better.


In this sentence, hį- refers to “me” and gi- refers to “to” which carries the idea of “to me”.  The term hįngipi literally says, “It is good to me.”  The idea of “my foot” is therefore expressed as “foot to-me”.  Here is another example:


Nąwe rigithewe ke/ki. – Your hand is black.


Just as in the previous example, the idea of possession to “you” is done via “to you” to say “hand – it is black to you”.