Many common English words finish with 'tion':







But, these words are often pronounced incorrectly.

The correct pronunciation of 'tion' is:


Click here to hear how it sounds


This short story called The Paperclip focuses on words with this ending. Read the story, practice your pronunciation, and then leave a comment. What do you think John will do with the paperclip?


The Paperclip


"Can I ask you a question?”

The voice seemed to come from a distant place. I looked up from my computer screen. I looked out of the window at the quiet sky. I was ten floors above the bustling city below.

No one was there. I turned a paperclip in my fingers.


The voice came again, a little closer this time. I turned slowly in my leather office chair, a prize for my promotion to the tenth floor last month.

It was Suzy. She stood there with a cup of coffee in her hands. She looked a little worried and very blonde and beautiful in her dark dress. She smiled at me.

"John, you were miles away. Listen,” she said as she sat on the edge of my desk. “About this presentation tomorrow. I think you should do it.”

She sipped her coffee and looked excitedly at me, as if she'd just offered me a new BMW for my hard work this last month. The truth was that I hated this tenth floor office and the special new chair and all the stress that went with it. I hated this whole organisation. However, I didn't hate Suzy. Far from it, in fact.

"The presentation?” I started to feel ill at the mention of that horrible word. Presentation... It was awful, and she had been going to do it, and now she wanted me to give it to fifty-five people? Tomorrow? And, hadn't she said she needed to ask me a question? I couldn't see a question anywhere. All I could see was lovely Suzy, and how could you say no to her? She was the boss, after all.

"Me?” I said. “Sure, Suzy. No problem. What time is it?” I tried to look cool. Failure was not an option, not in front of Suzy.

"They'll all be here by ten,” she said through a smile of full red lips. “And, I'll be there to give you a bit of moral support, you know. Will you have time to prepare everything? I can pass you my notes and information if they'll help.”

"Perfect. Preparation is the key.” I laughed too hard and realised I had bent the unfortunate paperclip out of shape. If it was possible, the whole thing sounded worse; now Suzy was going to be an eye witness.

"And afterwards, we'll go for a little celebration. What do you think? A drink at that nice new bar over the road? We can celebrate your first presentation of many to come. I've got a good feeling about you.”

My mouth was hanging open. Had Suzy just invited me for a drink? What did the word 'celebration' mean in her terms? And, what was this good feeling she had? I shut my mouth. Now was the time for action, not idiots.

"Of course, and we can get a late lunch too,” I said. “If you want, of course…”

"Yeah,” she said. Was that a wink?  “See you tomorrow. I'll email those notes to you now.”

And, she was gone.

A 'celebration'. What could it mean? First, I'd have to do the presentation and do it well. Was that even possible?

My computer pinged with a new message. I opened the mail and read.

Here are the notes. If you need any help, just give me a shout. Looking forward to that celebration afterwards.



One x. She'd finished with a kiss! For me?

It was suddenly too hot in here. I couldn't do the presentation. Just the thought of the last one I had attempted made me feel sick, but that was years ago. No one here knew about it. How could I get out of it? Alien abduction? Train cancellation? Sudden and very serious throat infection?

There was no way to not do it and still celebrate with Suzy. What would it be? The celebration of the non-presentation? Maybe she'd just bring me medication for the imaginary throat problem.

In all honesty that didn't sound too bad on reflection, but I needed to think.

One of the benefits of tenth-floor working was that you could come and go as you pleased, no complications. I put my coat on and announced to the secretary that I would be working from home for the rest of the day.

Before I left, I picked up the paperclip I had bent out of shape before. I don't know why, but I put it in my pocket. I had the ridiculous feeling it could help me.

I left the office, my heart in my mouth, my stomach in my chest. And, the paperclip, safe in my hand, tucked in my pocket.

How could a paperclip be my salvation? I didn't know yet. I just had to figure it out.

©2014 Joanna Robson


Image by Karyn Christner (CC BY 2.0)