It’s Time to Shun the ‘tion’ and ‘sion’ Suffixes

About a month ago we watched a video in which a tutor was teaching her student when to use the <tion> suffix and when to use  the <sion> suffix.  Our first reaction was, “But neither of those is actually a suffix!”  We listened on.  When looking at the word <expression>, the tutor explained that the base word is <express>, and since it ends in <s>, you add the <sion>.  But that meant that there would be three s’s in a row.  The tutor explained that that wouldn’t be right, so you just drop one of them.  When she said that, I had a flashback to a time in grade school when my teacher was saying those same words.  I remember thinking that spelling is just crazy.  How do you know when you’re supposed to keep letters and when you’re supposed to drop them.  Why add another <s> if you already have as many as you need?

And in that moment I knew why so many people believe that <tion> and <sion> are indeed suffixes.  It’s what we’ve all been taught in school.  It is what is still being taught in schools.  But why?  Why is this misinformation so widely accepted as truth?  Well, I believe that this is what happens when you are trying to figure out the spelling of a word and the only thing you know to do with words is break them into syllables!  On top of that, instead of looking at words with the word’s meaning as a top priority, people look at words with the word’s pronunciation as a top priority.    Once you’ve focused on pronouncing the word’s parts, you’ve hidden the word’s parts that carry the meaning of the word, and you end up with parts that sound like “shun”.

In response to the video we watched (and because we are on a quest to right the misinformation children and adults both have) we created the following fun yet informative video.  We hope it will help clarify your understanding of this whole <tion> <sion> nonsense.  Please let us know what you think.

23 thoughts on “It’s Time to Shun the ‘tion’ and ‘sion’ Suffixes

  1. This is the most inspiring evidence I have seen of effective engaging pedagogies. Thank you for proving how well it can be done

  2. Wow, nice “Can you prove it?” video!

    Kevin here, from Mr.Caldwell’s class. I love how there’s a little squabble about “ion” and “sion” suffixes!

    Have you ever wondered if there was a “tion” suffix?
    Our class came up with lots of words that contained the possible suffix- ,”attention”, “preparation” – and one I thought of myself-“station” !

    I just wanted to get the word out- what’s the base of all these wonderful words? I mean, what’s the structure?

    Keep up the awesome videos!

    P.S. Sorry about the previous post earlier. The blog won’t let me do angle brackets!

  3. Hi I’m Dana from Mr. Caldwell’s Class

    This was an astonishing video to watch. Contestant 1 had some good guesses. Contestant 2 got them all right. But you should remember the BASES,PREFIXES, and the SUFFIXES.

    Can You Prove it? Is AMAZING!!!!

    Congratulations Contestant 1!
    Congratulations Contestant 2!

  4. Oh My Gosh!!!!!
    I love your video. I now understand what a suffix is. I am going to share this with my class. I hope we can do one also!
    I live in New York in the US.
    Please go to my class’s blog @, and comment to us!
    Thanks! 🙂

  5. Hello, I’m Seth from ZIS (Zurich International School). I’m in 5th grade in Mr. Allen’s class.

    After I watched the video about the suffix and how it is confused with either ‘tion’ or ‘sion’. I liked how you made this into a game show explaining the difference. I think this is going to give people (even adults) the truth of the suffix . Plus it’s entertaining to watch.

  6. I learned that every base has a meaning. You have proved to me that ion is the suffix for every word that has tion or sion in the word.
    Sincerely juan
    G5 Allen

  7. I am from ZIS mr.Allen’s class. This is what I want to say about the video you made…
    I think it was a nice video with good suffixes. It was nice that you always included the e\.
    I also liked the questions you asked.

  8. Hi. We’re from Mr Allen’s class at ZIS. I liked your video. I thought it was funny and cool. I think it was a good video. I wish our class could do this. Well done. I think this will help other classes who are learning about suffixes.

  9. Before watching this video, I always thought that sion and tion were suffixes. I never thought that the base element had to have a meaning. I learnt that what the suffix is doesn’t depend on the sound of the word but the meaning of the word.

  10. Hi. My name is Sydney. I’m in Mr.Allen’s class at Zurich International School. In class we watched your video about suffixes, and I thought it was great and very interesting. I learned more about base elements and suffixes. I really liked how you turned your investigations into a game show.


  11. Hi, I am from Zurich ZIS mr Allen’s class and I thought this was a very cool movie. I never knew that the word structure to ‘motion’ was mote/+ion. I also learnt why ion was a suffix!

    It was a Great movie!

  12. I thought your video was very interesting. It was a really cool way of showing your understanding of how to do a word investigation.

  13. Dear Mrs. Steven’s class,

    My name is Sophie, and I go to school at ZIS (Zürich International School) in Mr Allen’s Grade Five Class. Our class enjoys Orthography too! This was a very informative video, and you did a great job proving ‘ion’ as a suffix. I enjoyed watch this very entertaining video and I hope you make more! 🙂

    Great Job,

  14. Hi
    My name is Ishika, and I’m in Mr.Allen’s 5th grade class, at Zurich International School.

    I think your video was very creative, and you definitely proved that ‘ion’ is a suffix. It was really cool how you came up with the idea of a contest.

  15. My dear friends. This is an absolutely beautiful (and hilarious) piece of work. That you would respond to misinformation not with outrage but with this joyful and gentle sharing of your expertise is delightful. As Pete says, this is now a resource for the world, and this service cannot be underestimated!

    I can’t wait to share this with my own class! They are SO going to want to create their own!

  16. Teachers and tutors around the world owe your class such a debt of gratitude for the work you are doing. Your constructive, creative and scientific response to the misinformation that is so prevalent is inspiring.

    Perhaps my favourite message of all though, comes at the end as contestant #2 the “loser” of the competition shares her joy at having her previous false understanding proven wrong so that she can move forward with an ever deepening understanding of spelling.

    Just brilliant!

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