What does ‘set’ mean?

The word ‘set‘ can mean many different things. As a verb, the meaning is to harden or put something in a specific position.

For example:

  • The jelly will take 3 hours to set. (harden)
  • Darcy will set the table ready for the dinner party. (put in a specific position)


Set is an irregular verb. The past tense is set and the past participle is set.

phrasal verbs with set

Phrasal verbs with ‘set’ include:

  • set about
    meaning – start doing something
    example – I set about revising at 6pm, I didn’t stop until 2am.
  • set apart
    meaning – distinguish between different things
    example – The winners right hook is what set him apart from the other competitors.
  • set aside
    meaning – save a bit of something for later
    example – I’ve been setting aside a bit of money each week for a smart TV.
  • set back
    meaning – the cost of something or a delay
    example – We’ve set the project back until spring. We don’t have the funds just yet.
  • set in
    meaning – something (usually) unpleasant takes hold
    example – The infection is setting in. There is no chance of the young cheetah cub recovering.
  • set off
    meaning – trigger a device/chain of events or start a journey
    example – If we set off at 10, we should get there by noon.
  • set on/upon
    meaning – attack
    example – I’ve been set upon 3 times this year. My city is so dangerous.
  • set out
    meaning – begin a journey, display something or explain in a clear manner
    example – The contract sets out all the legal obligations. If you break one, you’ll be liable.
  • set up
    meaning – trick/deceive or assemble/install something
    example – I was set up by the Police, they know I didn’t commit the murder.

picture examples

phrasal verbs with set

Let’s learn the meaning of the phrasal verbs that contain the verb ‘set’ in more detail and see some examples in use.

phrasal verbs with set - set about
phrasal verbs list with set - set apart
phrasal verbs list with set - set aside meaning
hrasal verbs with set - set back meaning
phrasal verbs with set - set in meaning
phrasal verbs with set - set off meaning
phrasal verbs with set - set on/upon meaning
phrasal verbs with set list - set out meaning
phrasal verbs list with set - set up meaning

You can download a table of phrasal verbs with set below.

phrasal verbs exercises

How much have you learnt from this page? Test yourself by filling in the blanks with the correct phrasal verb with ‘set’. Answers are at the bottom, good luck!

phrasal verbs with set exercises
phrasal verbs with set exercises

phrasal verbs speaking practice

Do you think you understand all the phrasal verbs with ‘set’ now? Well… there’s only one way to find out. Find a friend (or a mirror) and practice answering these questions. You can always go back to the pictures above if you get stuck.

english phrasal verbs speaking practice - set
english phrasal verbs speaking practice - set

Did you know that many idiomatic expressions (idioms) in English also contain a lot of verbs? Just like phrasal verbs, idioms are a major part of the English language (slang in particular). They are used constantly amongst native English speakers and are handy to know and understand.


Now you’ve learnt all the phrasal verbs with set, how about learning the idioms with set too?

phrasal verbs courses

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