Browse Definitions :

Do you reap what you sow or what you sew?

Writing for Business

Which is correct?
Microsoft has often been accused of ______ FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to keep customers leery of switching to competitor’s products.
a. sowing
b. sewing


Answer: a.

Explanation:
Sewing is stitching something together, like a tailor sews two pieces of fabric or a doctor sews a nasty cut. Sowing, on the other hand, is planting, as in putting seeds in the ground that you hope will grow. I guess as a culture, we’re increasingly distanced from the agricultural past but I was surprised by how frequently “sew” pops up online when it should be “sow.” In fact, it appears to be much more common in the phrase “you reap what you ____.”

Google poll:

You reap what you sew: 17,100,000

You reap what you sow:  3,200,000

Even allowing for the intentional uses of “sew” as a pun, that’s an awful lot of instances of the wrong use.

Paul Brians includes “reap what you sew” in his Common Errors in English Usage:

When you plant seeds you sow them. Galatians 6:7 says “A man reaps what he sows” (harvests what he plants, gets what he deserves). This agricultural metaphor gets mangled frequently into “you reap what you sew.” At best, you might rip what you sew, but you probably wouldn’t want to tell people about it.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

Networking
Security
  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for ensuring individuals have the appropriate access to ...

  • fraud detection

    Fraud detection is a set of activities undertaken to prevent money or property from being obtained through false pretenses.

  • single sign-on (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials -- for ...

CIO
  • IT budget

    IT budget is the amount of money spent on an organization's information technology systems and services. It includes compensation...

  • project scope

    Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, ...

  • core competencies

    For any organization, its core competencies refer to the capabilities, knowledge, skills and resources that constitute its '...

HRSoftware
  • Workday

    Workday is a cloud-based software vendor that specializes in human capital management (HCM) and financial management applications.

  • recruitment management system (RMS)

    A recruitment management system (RMS) is a set of tools designed to manage the employee recruiting and hiring process. It might ...

  • core HR (core human resources)

    Core HR (core human resources) is an umbrella term that refers to the basic tasks and functions of an HR department as it manages...

Customer Experience
  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

  • customer profiling

    Customer profiling is the detailed and systematic process of constructing a clear portrait of a company's ideal customer by ...

Close