Plains Cree has a number of impersonal pronouns, as well as quantifiers which can stand alone as referents or combine with nouns in Noun Phrases.  An indefinite pronoun is one that does not refer to a specific referent, such as English indefinite pronouns like someone, something, everyone, everything, no-one, nothing, etc.  The most important indefinite pronouns can be marked for number and have interrogative counterparts, while other indefinite proforms typically only occur in single indeclinable forms.


awiya(k) “someone” and kīkway “something”

There are two indefinite pronouns which parallel the interrogative pronouns awīna “who” and kīkwāy “what”.  The forms of awiya(k) “someone” and kīkway  “something”, are given in Tables *.1 and *.2.


Table *.1

Forms of awiya(k) “someone”


singular plural



awiyak awiyak(ak)

awiya (~ awiyiwa)

These are only ever used for animate reference.  The distinction of singular awiyak and plural awiyakak is not always made, though the obviative awiya is still consistently used.


Table *.2

Forms of kīkway “something”


proximate obviative


plural singular plural
“(some)thing” animate kīkway (kīkwayak)


inanimate kīkway (kīkwaya) kīkway


In practice, the number-marked forms of kīkway- are not commonly used such that the unmarked kīkway is usually sufficient as an indefinite pronoun. The plural forms are just as likely to be interpreted as nouns (i.e. NI kīkwaya “things”, NA kīkwayak “things”).


These two important indefinite pronouns are used as the base for further pronouns meaning “every-“, “any-” and “no-“, as given in (1)-(2)

(1)    a)    kahkiyaw awiya(k)                                 “everyone” [literally: “all someone”]

b)     piko awiya(k) ~ pikw āwiya(k)              “everyone; anyone” [literally: “just someone; only someone”]

c)     nam āwiya(k) ~ (na)mōy āwiya(k)        “no-one”

(2)    a)    kahkiyaw kīkway                                   “everything” [literally: “all (some)thing”]

b)     piko kīkway                                           “everything; anything” [literally: “just something; only something”]

c)     (na)ma kīkway ~ (na)mōy kīkway          “nothing” [literally: “not something”]


Furthermore, kīkway can be compounded with many elements in what appear to be pronoun-like forms, but this is due to the dual use of kīkway as both a pronoun and as a noun meaning “thing”, as in the examples in (3):

(3)    konita-kīkway   “something or other; random things”;

  maci-kīkway     “something bad; bad thing(s)”

  kihci-kīkway     “something important; great thing(s)”

  miyo-kīkway     “something good; good thing(s)”



The final element in kīkway, specifically ay-, is also pronominal in nature but necessarily compounds with prenominal elements to create both animate (4) and inanimate (5) nouns, as in the following examples.

(4)    animate:    kēhtē-aya(k)    “old one(s); elder(s)”

    osk-āya(k)         “young one(s); adolescent, youth”

    nāpē-aya(k)       “male being(s)”

    nōsē-aya(k)       “female being(s)”

(5)    inanimate:  kayās-āyi          “old  thing”

    osk-āyi                “new article, new stuff”

    pipon-ayi           “article of winter clothing”


kotak “(an)other”

Another element that can stand alone as an indefinite pronoun or combine with nouns is kotak “(an)other”.  This particular pronoun, like interrogative kīkwāy “what” and indefinite kīkway “something”, inflects very much like a regular noun stem, whether NA1 or NI1.  The full paradigm for kotak is given in Table *.3.


Table *.3

Forms of kotak “(an)other”


proximate obviative
singular plural singular



animate kotak kotakak kotaka
inanimate kotak kotaka kotak



This pronoun can also occur as a locative, kotakihk “in another place, elsewhere”, in which case number cannot be marked.


Additional indefinite pronouns/quantifiers

Some additional indefinite pronouns/quantifiers include the following:

(6)    ātiht “some”

kahkiyaw “all”

cikawasis “few”

mihcēt “many”

mistahi “much”

apisīs “little”

tahto “each, every”



Any and all of these can occur alone or in combination with nouns expressing quantification.  In this sense, the numerals (see IPC) can also serve as (definite) quantification.


Indefinite proforms

Finally, there are a wide range of indefinite proforms that mirror some of the interrogative proforms previously introduced (see **).  These include but are not limited to:

(7)    Locatives:    nānitaw itē   “somewhere”

    pikw īta   “anywhere, everywhere”

    pikw ītē   “(to) anywhere, (to) everywhere”

    pikw ītē isi   “in any direction”

    tahtwayak   “at each place, at every place; in so many places”

    piko itowihk “in any place, in every place”

(8)    Time:           nānitaw ispī(hk)  “at some time”

    pikw īspī(hk)   “anytime, every time”

    tahtwāw   “each time, every time; so many times”

(9)    Manner:      nānitaw isi  “in some way”

    nānitaw isi   “in any way”

    pikw īsi   “any way, every way”

(10)    Amount:      nahiyikohk  “enough”

(11)    Type:             piko itowahk “any kind”