The past tense of “sew” is a tricky thing to figure out. Some irregular verbs are easy enough because they have two different forms, but there’s no overlap. In the case of “sew,” there is overlap, and this article will explain what that is and how both forms work.
Sewed or Sewn: Which Is Correct?
“Sewed” and “sewn” are both correct as the past tense of “sew.” We use “sewed” as either the simple past tense or the past participle, which means it works in multiple forms. However, “sewn” only works as the past participle, and it requires an auxiliary verb before being correct.
Here are the three possible ways we can use the verb forms:
- I sewed the seam.
- You have sewn my dress for me.
- We have sewed the stitches already.
And these are the forms we’ll be looking at in this article:
|Past Participle||Sewn / Sewed|
When Is “Sewed” Correct?
“Sewed” is both the simple past tense, which works on its own, and the past participle, which requires an auxiliary verb. We can use it to talk about someone “sewing” in the past or doing something in the present if need be.
The simple past tense is the easiest tense to use. It only requires a pronoun:
- I sewed
- She sewed
- We sewed
- He sewed
The past participle is a little more tricky. We need an auxiliary verb (like “have”) to work alongside it. This will turn it into one of three perfect tenses:
- Past perfect: Had sewed
- Present perfect: Have sewed
- Future perfect: Will have sewed
We keep the form of “sewed” the same no matter what tense we write in. However, the form of “have” changes based on the tense.
Example Sentences Using “Sewed”
Since “sewed” can be both the simple past tense and the past participle, we’ll make sure to split this section accordingly. You can read the sections that most apply to you, but we encourage you to read through them all to get a better understanding of it.
Simple Past Tense
- I sewed the shirt because he asked me to.
- She sewed her dress for her own wedding.
“Sewed” is the simple past tense when no auxiliary verb is used. We use this to talk about something that happened in the past. There is nothing more we can do to change this in the present.
- We had sewed these together before, but we were happy to do them again.
- You had sewed the wrong seams, so I’ll have to get you to do it again.
“Had sewed” is the past perfect tense. We use this tense to show the order of how things happened in the past. Usually, there is something that we might be able to do in the present to affect them (or we might just be talking about how they happened).
- I have sewed the hems of your trousers, so please don’t rip them again.
- You have sewed this for me, and I’m eternally grateful!
“Have sewed” is the present perfect tense. We can use it to talk about someone “sewing” something in the past and continuing or finishing the action in the present.
- I will have sewed these jeans back up by the end of the night!
- You will have sewed both of my dresses, and I will thank you when you get it done.
“Will have sewed” is the future perfect tense. We can use it to refer to a future event taking place, even if it’s not happened yet.
When Is “Sewn” Correct?
“Sewn” is only the past participle of “sew.” It’s the most common variation that people use, but we’ve already explained a lot about the past participle, so there isn’t much new information to add.
“Sewn” is the most popular past participle choice for “to sew.” That means we can use it when talking about someone “sewing” in one of the three perfect tenses. An auxiliary verb is always required when using “sewn.”
The perfect tenses look the same with “sewn” as they did with “sewed.” We can use “had” for the past perfect, “have” for the present perfect, and “will have” for the future perfect.
Example sentences using “Sewn”
“Sewed” is both the simple past tense and the past participle. However, “sewn” is only the past participle. For that reason, we typically use it more commonly in this way, which is why we’ll break this section into three again.
- I had sewn this already, but I suppose I can do it again.
- We had sewn the stitches back before we decided to call it a night.
“Had sewn” works when showing the order in which events took place in the past. We can use it to show that someone “sewed” something before another thing happened.
- I have sewn your dress for you so you can look your best tonight.
- We have sewn both of these patches together to show that we care.
“Have sewn” works when someone “sewed” something in the past. We then talk about the “sewing” action continuing or finishing at some point in the present (or a few seconds ago).
- I will have sewn every dress that I’ve ever worn after this one.
- You will have sewn the seams by the end of the week, with no excuses.
“Will have sewn” works when someone will “sew” something in the future. While it has yet to happen, there is somewhat of a guarantee that this event will take place.
“Have Sewed” Vs. “Have Sewn”
We’ve shown you that both “sewed” and “sewn” are correct past participles. With this knowledge, you should already have a good answer for this section.
“Have sewed” and “have sewn” are both correct. We can use them both as the past participle. “Have sewn” is more common, but you can use either one depending on personal preference.
- Correct: I have sewed all the stitches back together.
- Correct: You have sewn everything that I asked you to.
“Sewed” is the only acceptable simple past tense of the present tense verb “to sew.” However, “sewed” can also be used as the past participle, but so can “sewn.” “Sewn” is generally the more common and expected of the two options.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.