Sew vs. Sow – What’s the difference?

If you’re a dressmaker creating a draped cardigan, do you sew or sow it? Do you sow or sew clothing? I remember the difference easily because I used to be a soft goods specialist for Ethan Allen and I sew things in my spare time. I use the term ‘sew’ all the time.

But for some, it can be confusing because both words sound exactly the same.

Let’s compare the difference between sew and sow in terms of their meaning. I’ll also show you examples of how to use them in sentences.

Sew vs. Sow—What’s the Difference?

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Sew and sow are both verbs. But they have a massive difference in meaning.

Sew with an e in the middle refers to the act of stitching fabrics together. This process usually involves a needle, thread, and sometimes a sewing machine. You might sew a pillowcase for your mother or friend. But you might also sew a cloth on the hole of your jacket.

There is also an idiom or verb phrase, sew something up, meaning bring something to a good decision. It also means to complete successfully or to gain total control over something.

Sow is a verb meaning to scatter seeds on the ground. This procedure is done by a farmer so that the seeds will grow into fruitful crops. Nowadays, people use sow to spread other things, such as rumors and cheer.

Another meaning for sow, which rhymes with cow, is an adult female pig. These words are called homographs. They have the exact spelling but different meanings and pronunciations.

Are Sow and Sew Pronounced the Same?

Sew and sow have identical pronunciations because they are homophones. These are words with different spellings and meanings but the same pronunciations.

Is it Reap What You Sow or Sew?

The correct phrase is to reap what you sow. This idiom means to experience the same kind of things one caused others to experience. This proverb says that your present actions shape the future consequences of your conditions.

Is Sow Past Tense of Sew?

No, sow and sew are different verbs. The verb sew is used to stitch fabrics, while sow is used to plant seeds. That means we sew clothing and sow seeds.

Is it Sowed or Sewed?

Both sowed and sewed are correct. Sowed is the simple past form of sow, while sewed is the simple past tense for sew.

Sewn vs. Sown

Sewn and sown are the past participle forms of sew and sow because they are irregular verbs.

An irregular verb is any verb without the usual pattern of inflection. Most of these words have different simple past forms. However, sew and sow have regular past forms, sewed and sowed. They are only irregular because of their past participle forms.

Other inflections of sew include sewed, sewn, sewing, and sews. Meanwhile, other inflections of sow include sowed, sown, sowing, and sows.

Sow vs. So

Sow and so are also two words you might find confusing. Sow is the verb that means to scatter seeds. So is a shorter word with the same pronunciation. It’s an adverb used as a modifier to show intensity to an adjective. Some synonyms include very, highly, and super.

Trick to Remember the Difference

It’s relatively easy to remember that sewing involves stitching, while sowing includes scattering seeds. But if it’s still challenging for you, here’s a trick.

Remember that one of the two verbs is associated with the word crop. To know which one it is, check the middle vowel in sew and sow. Since sow has an o like crop, then sow means to scatter seeds.

Sew and Sow in a Sentence

Here are some examples of sew and its other inflections in a sentence.

  • The indigenous tribe gathers for twice-weekly sewing meetings about their traditional clothing.
  • Ask the seamstress if she can sew this pattern.
  • She learned how to sew a button on her cardigan today.
  • “The last time I sewed before I got this machine was probably in fifth grade in my home economics class,” he said. “I was terrible. I couldn’t even sew a button.” [Spectrum News]
  • ​​The Mid-Missouri chapter of Ryan’s Cases for Smiles partnered with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 5 on Tuesday to sew pillowcases that will be donated to hospitals around the area in honor of September’s pediatric cancer awareness month. [News Tribune]

Here are examples of sow in a sentence.

  • My father sows the seeds of the house plants.
  • We’ve been sowing peas every year during this month.
  • Try sowing three bushels of oats.
  • A luscious garden tucked away inside a barbed wire fence outside of the Summit County Justice Center provides the jail’s inmates with an important lesson about reaping what you sow. [Park Record]

Summarizing Sew and Sow

So, I’ve given you the answer to the question, what is the difference between sew vs. sow? Do you have a better understanding now?Refer back to my meanings and examples of how to use them in a sentence.

Sew is the verb that refers to the process of stitching apparel. Sow is also a verb that means to plant seeds for growth. We also use sow to refer to a female pig.

See also

Sow wild oats