Sow and Sew

How to Know When to Sow and When to Sew

by Owen Fourie

If I sew that tear in your shirt so that it will look as good as new, will you sow this millet in the field near the sty? But watch out for the sow.

So, was that confusing?

It’s quite simple, really. We’re trading skills. I don’t like sowing seed and you don’t like needlework, but you like sowing seed and I like needlework, so it’s a good exchange of services.

Now that we’ve sorted that out, let’s focus on the words sow and sew to remove any confusion about them. Actually, there are four words, not two, that we need to consider.

Sew, Sow, Sow, So

Hold on! There’s duplication here. There are only three words, right? No. WYSIWYG: What you see is what you’ll get.

Sew (rhymes with “go”)

Sew is a verb

This back pocket was ripped from my jeans as I fell into the sty. Please sew it back because I need it for my wallet.

I’ll gladly do that, and I’ll also sew on a new button to replace this broken one.

I do a lot of stitching by hand with needle and thread, but my sister sews more by using a sewing machine.

Sow (rhymes with “go”)

Sow is a verb

Soil temperatures should be at least 18.3°C. or warmer before you sow pearl millet.

I’ll sow seeds for beans, beets, carrots, and lettuce in my new vegetable patch.

Why do you think I should sow sunflowers and morning glories on the east side of the sty?

Sow (rhymes with “now”)

Sow is a noun

When someone mentions a sow, it is common to think of a female pig.

The female aardvark is also called a sow.

Besides the pig and the aardvark, there are at least sixteen other animals whose females are called sows. Some of these are the raccoon, the otter, the mole, the bear, and the badger.

So (rhymes with “go”)

So is an adverb

Use the spreader so, and you will get an even dispersal of the seed.

You look so tired after sowing the millet seed. There is some refreshing lemonade for you in the kitchen.

So is an adjective

I insist that the seeds you sow in this flower garden must be according to my plan. Everything must be exactly so.

So is a conjunction

I miscalculated the amount of millet seed needed for that field, so we’ll go to the store tomorrow to pick up a few more bags.

So is a pronoun

That sow isn’t a friendly beast, and, no doubt, she will remain so.

So is an interjection

So! You have finished sowing the millet.

How to distinguish between sow (verb) and sow (noun)

The distinction is obviously in the pronunciation.

Simply remember that in the field alongside the sty there is a sleek show cow grazing happily on pearl millet.

show cow

so, sow (verb), and sew rhyme with show and are homophones

sow (noun) rhymes with cow

How to distinguish between sow (verb) and sew (verb)

The distinction can be made by the appearance of the vowels.

You sow seed. The o in sow is a picture of a tiny seed.

To sew a button on a garment, you need a needle and thread. The needle has an eye. The e in sew can represent the eye of a needle.

So! There you have it. You know now when to sow and when to sew. Oh, and … uh … be careful of the female pig. That sow is an old so-and-so!


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