How to choose the right word and tell the difference between sound-a-likes: sow, sew and so


English can be SEW confusing. Because English borrows from so many other languages, the same sound can be made by different combinations of letters – hence lots of word confusion – and people using the wrong words especially in writing!


I lead a varied life – one day  as an international communication coach helping top execs “choose the right words”….the next day helping my kids with home work.

scrabble spelling

In both cases I help people remember how to choose the right words by using the “known to remember the unknown.”

Take for example the sound-the-same words that are spelled differently – sow, sew and so. (Homophones – homo = the same)

Use what people know to help them remember related words they need to remember. It also helps if you an visualize the memory trigger – for example a CAR or an Envelope.

My teachers helped me remember a cAr is stationAry and papEr and Enveloples are stationEry!

I apply the same techniques to help my kids (and execs!)

My son knows how to spell:

crOp and cOrn nd grOW – when you sOw seeds to grOw a crOP – that’s spelled sOw.

the other word sEw – is when you use “a nEEdlE pulling thrEad” – that’s the one with the E. (Anyone recognise the song that line comes from?)

and the other So is spelled SO – without the W. It doesn’t matter there is no W – So What?

So is also to show an extreme degree as in I am SO SOrry!

English is so confusing because SOW can also be pronounced a different way to mean a female pig.


It’s pronounced like COW (another animal) – so SOW is also an animal when pronounced like COW.

Confusing isn’t it?

Today, I’m meeting an expert who is also a good friend. My friend Melissa became and expert  in teaching kids how to learn language understand the difference between confusing words. Her daughter struggled in learning language and so this expert mum came up with effective ways to teach her daughter.

I’ll share some of her “secrets” in future posts. And I’ll probably use some of the techniques to teach my kids – and maybe even to help some of my top business clients who want to make sure they choose the right words in their business communication. 🙂


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One thought on “How to choose the right word and tell the difference between sound-a-likes: sow, sew and so

  1. Pingback: One of the most common Business English word confusion mistakes – and how to fix it | Choose the Right Words

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