-tion/-sion Suffix Syllable Stress Patterns

-tion/-sion syllable stress pattern

The -tion and -sion suffixes are stressed one syllable before the suffix. This important English pronunciation pattern provides a formula to determine which syllable is likely to be the stressed syllable in an enormous number of words in English.

In addition to studying the following example words to learn these stress patterns, note other commonalities in their pronunciation to help learn the characteristics of pronouncing the suffixes themselves correctly.

-tion Pronunciation

The -tion is pronounced with an 'sh sound' /ʃ/ unless the sound preceding the suffix is an /s/. When an /s/ precedes the -tion, the suffix is likely to be pronounced with a 'ch sound' /ʧ/. Of the two options, the /ʃ/ pronunciation is much more common.


-sion Pronunciation

The -sion suffix is likely to be pronounced with a 'zh sound' /ʒ/ when the -sion is preceded by /r/ or a vowel sound. In most other circumstances, the 'sh sound' /ʃ/ is the more likely pronunciation for the -sion suffix. Since both of these pronunciation patterns are common in American English, care should be taken with the pronunciation of all words containing the -sion suffix.


Variations of the -tion, -sion and -ation suffixes

The -tion and -sion and -ation suffixes are base suffixes for more related suffixes, namely -tional, -tionally, -sional, -sionally. The syllable stress pattern remains consistent, even when more syllables are added to the word: the syllable previous to the -tion or -sion carries the word's primary stress.