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

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

meaning – start doing something
example – I set about revising at 6pm, I didn’t stop until 2am.

phrasal verbs with set - set about

set apart

meaning – distinguish between different things
example – The winners right hook is what set him apart from the other competitors.

phrasal verbs list with set - set apart

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.

phrasal verbs list with set - set aside meaning

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.

hrasal verbs with set - set back meaning

set in

meaning – something (usually) unpleasant takes hold
example – The infection is setting in. There is no chance of the young cheetah cub recovering.

phrasal verbs with set - set in meaning

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.

phrasal verbs with set - set off meaning

set on/upon

meaning – attack
example – I’ve been set upon 3 times this year. My city is so dangerous.

phrasal verbs with set - set on/upon meaning

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.

phrasal verbs with set list - set out meaning

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.

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

If you’ve enjoyed this page, there are plenty more for you to look at. Click here to see the list of groups ready and waiting to be studied. Maybe you just like informal/slang English? Head to my useful tips and information section for loads more hints and tips to speak like a native.

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