Sit versus set

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Sit Versus SetКак большинство английских кратких слов, «sit» и «set» входят в число тех, которые часто путают. Оба слова имеют довольно много значений, в настоящем посте мы рассмотрим некоторые из этих значений – те, что пересекаются или являются взаимозаменяемыми.

Слова «sit» и «set» используются аналогично «lay» и «lie». “to sit” – это «сесть, быть посаженным», а “to set” – «положить что-то куда-то».  В этих контекстах «sit» — непереходный глагол, а «set» принимает прямое дополнение.

Для начала отметим и запомним формы этих двух глаголов:

  • sit, sat, (have) sat, sitting
  • set, set, (have) set, setting

Однако, учитывая то, что «sit» и «set» наделены столькими дополнительными значениями, усилия установить твердые правила, указывающие когда нужно использовать то или иное слово, будут бесполезны.  Но, тем не менее, мы продолжаем стараться провести параллель.

На одном из образовательных сайтов в Интернете встретилось объяснение, что к одушевленным предметам применяем «sit», а к неодушевленным «set», — ну, что ж, это логично! Но это утверждение не стоит всегда считать стандартным правилом, к тому же, «set» с неодушевленными предметами нужно использовать в пассиве, а в активном залоге существительное, которое размещают где-то, будет дополнением:

  • The roses were set into a vase – розы поставили в вазу
  • I set the table in the middle of the room – я поставил стол в середину комнаты
  • Выражения  “to sit well” и “to set well” имеют разные значения.
  • Если мы говорим “this proposal doesn’t sit well with all directors”, это означает, что не все директора согласны с этим предложением.
  • Об одежде можно сказать “the suit sets well on him” – «костюм хорошо на нем сидит».

Что касается одежды, то оба глагола взаимозаменяемы — to sit / set (well, ill, tightly,  loosely и т.д.)

  • This jeans sit well on him
  • This jeans set well on him

Пожалуй, это все о схожести этих двух глаголов, в остальном их значения не соприкасаются, но значений у каждого так много, что нужно посвятить этому отдельную статью. Подробнее о глаголе set.

Sit Versus Set

Sit vs. Set

Sit Versus Set

Like many of our shortest English words, sit and set have lengthy entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. Some of the definitions overlap. Some are interchangeable.

The most common uses of sit and set are similar to those of lay and lie. “To sit” is to be seated. “To set” is to place something somewhere. In these contexts, sit is intransitive and set takes an object.

Mixing up sit and set is not as common as mixing up lay and lie because the principal parts of sit and set are completely different:

sit, sat, (have) sat, sitting
set, set, (have) set, setting

However, because sit and set have so many additional uses, efforts to state a hard and fast rule as to when to use one and when the other are futile. That fact doesn’t stop people from trying. I read a comment asserting that “animate objects sit, whereas inanimate objects set, and that’s that!”

  • If “that were that,” the following statements would represent standard usage, but they don’t.
  • The flowers were setting on the table and the men’s tuxes were draped over chairs.
  • We were surprised by the beautiful gift-wrapped package setting on our bed.
  • Both “flowers” and “package” are inanimate objects, but sitting is the verb called for in both statements.
  • The meanings of sit listed in the OED include this one:

 a. Of things: To have place or location; to be situated. Ex. There were a dozen eggs still sitting on the front porch and the dustbin sat at the back of the house where the binmen had left it.

The flowers were sitting on the table and the package was sitting on the bed.

The expressions “to sit well” and “to set well” have differing meanings.

A certain plan may not sit well with voters. Here, “to sit well” means something like “to please” or “be agreeable to.”

A jacket may be said to set well on the shoulders. The OED definition for this sense of to set is,

To have a certain set or hang; to sit (well or ill, tightly or loosely, etc.).

In texts written about clothing, you will also see “to sit well” used in the same sense:

Just because you can squeeze yourself into a garment doesn’t mean it sits well.
Trousers with a wider waistband sit well.

  1. When speaking of clothing, “to set well” and “to sit well” seem to be interchangeable.
  2. In the matter of liking or not liking legislation, “to sit well” or “not to sit well” is the way to go.
  3. In speaking of an object that has been placed somewhere, the choice is “sitting.”

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Keep learning! Browse the Misused Words category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:

Sit vs. Set

I had a request for “sit vs. set,” and to be honest, I’ve never thought about the two words before. I thought everyone knew the difference but apparently not, so here I am, helping you out. ???? I can’t think of anything fun for an introduction, so let’s get right to the material.

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Sit is an intransitive verb, meaning it does not need an object. I can tell a dog “Sit down” and it is a complete sentence. As such, when you say it–hopefully–the dog will plop its little booty down.

You don’t need to say “I sit my butt on the floor” (in which case, “butt” would be the object). The definition of “sit” basically means that–put your butt down. The object is built in the definition.

Kind of a crude definition, but definitely the most simple. ????


Set, on the other hand, is a transitive verb, meaning it needs an object. “I set the plate down.” “I” is the subject, “set” is the verb, and “plate” is the object that you are enacting upon. “Set” always needs an object. The object is not built into the word as it is with “sit.” An additional note: “Set” is an irregular verb form, and as such, “set” is both the present and past tenses.

Final Thoughts

The important thing to remember with these two words is that “set” always needs an object. You cannot just “set down,” you need to “set SOMETHING down.” As long as you can remember that, you should be good to go! Good luck! ????

Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms

Sit vs Set

Sit and Set are two verbs in English language that are confused by people not just because of their similar pronunciations but also because somewhat similar meanings.

These two verbs are one of the most misused verbs in English and also hard to understand by the students of the language. If you know the difference between lie and lay, it becomes easier to make out the difference between sit and set.

This article takes a closer look at the two verbs to come up with their differences.


Set is a transitive verb that is used to refer to an act of placing an object or objects in place in or upon a surface. Set retains its form whether one uses it in the present or the past tense. The verb is always used whenever you are talking about a thing or an object.

You can set a book in the shelf or a pillow on the bed but do not make the mistake of using set when you have gotten your coffee placed on the table by saying coffee is setting on the table. Also, you cannot ask your friend to set down on a chair as the right word or verb is always sit.

You cannot sit on the shelf, but you can always set showpieces in the shelf. Take a look at the following examples to understand the meaning and usage of set.

  • • Set the plates on the dining table.
  • • Postman sets the mail according to the pin codes.
  • • It is my duty to set the table for dinner every night.
  • Sit

Sit is an intransitive verb that refers to the act of bending your knees and placing your bottoms or hips on a chair or any other object. While sit is used in the present tense, sat is its past tense.

Sit, being intransitive in nature, does not require an object. To sit is to take a seat, so you sit down when someone asks you to take a seat. Sit is an irregular verb, so there is a change in its spelling when used in the past tense.

Here are some examples of the verb set to make its meaning clear.

  1. • The old man in the queue needs to sit down.
  2. • We got a chance to sit in the front row at the concert.
  3. Sit vs Set
  4. • Sit means to be seated while set means to place an object on a surface.
  5. • You sit on a chair, but you set plates in the shelf or books on the table.
  6. • Sit is intransitive and does not require an object whereas set is transitive and requires an object.

• Sit is irregular, and it’s spelling changes with the tense. On the other hand, set remains set in all its forms.

• Set is followed by an object.

Sit, Set, Sat

Remember my Tip of the Day about Lie vs. Lay? The same rule about transitive and intransitive verbs applies to Sit and Set.

Sit is a verb that means to rest on your butt. It is an intransitive verb, which means it does not take a direct object. In other words, you can sit, you can tell your dog to sit, but you cannot sit a thing down. The past tense of Sit is Sat.

Set is a verb that means to put or to place. It is a transitive verb, which means it takes a direct object. In other words, you can set
something on the table, you can set a table, but you cannot set down. You can set yourself down, but then “yourself” would be the direct object. Set is also the past tense of Set.

Therefore, in the Ballad of Jed Clampett, theme song for the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, there is a grammatical mistake
when they get to the end and say:

“Set a spell. Take your shoes off. Y’all come back now, hear?”

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Jed and Granny want you to rest on your butt on their front porch in the rocking chair, so “sit a spell” would be the correct term.

Of course, there are a whole bunch of other meanings for Set that might confuse you.
The sun sets in the west.

  • That’s an intransitive verb form because the sun is doing it all by itself, and there is no direct object in the sentence.
  • Here’s another one:
    It takes about an hour for Jell-O to set in the refrigerator.
  • Here “set” means “congeal,” another intransitive usage.

Fun Fact:
Did you know that Jell-O was invented in my home town of LeRoy, NY? When the town celebrated the 100th anniversary of Jell-O, my mom, who worked part-time as a docent at the Jell-O Museum on Main Street, sent me the official Jell-O Jubilee T-shirt. On it, in colorful Jell-O jiggler letters, was the following:

100 Years Old, and Still Jiggling

I do not wear this T-shirt. While I can jiggle with the best of them, I’m just past halfway there, age-wise. I’ve decided to give the
shirt to the first FOJ = Friend of Jeanne who makes it to 100 years old. The race is on!

Profound Quote of the Day:
“Be careful what you set your heart upon, for it will surely be yours.”
– James A. Baldwin, American author, 1924-1987


Sit and Set

In a different post we have discussed the distinction between lie and lay. It is also helpful to examine sit and set, another pair of potentially confusing verbs.

Which of these sentences use forms of the verbs “to sit” and “to set” correctly?

  1. Yesterday Suki sat in her office all afternoon completing the annual report.
  2. When she finished, she sat the report on her boss’s desk.
  3. Marcellos sits his books on the hall table every afternoon after school.
  4. Before Mr. Jones left for the meeting, we set down with him and reviewed the agenda.

Only the first sentence is correct.

“To sit” is an intransitive verb. It describes an action undertaken by the grammatical subject of a clause, but it cannot take a direct object: the verb “to sit” does not express the kind of action that can be DONE TO anything. Just as we do with “to lie,” think of “to sit” as meaning “to recline.”

It is conjugated in this manner:

  • I SIT here every day. (She SITS here.)
  • I SAT here yesterday.
  • I WILL SIT here tomorrow.
  • I AM SITTING here right now.
  • I HAVE SAT here every day for years.

Notice that we never use the word set to describe the act of reclining.

“To set” is a transitive verb. It describes an action and needs a direct object because it describes the kind of action that is DONE TO something. That is, something or someone in the sentence has to be receiving the action expressed by the verb. Just as we do with “to lay,” think of “to set” as meaning “to place,” “to put.”

It is conjugated in this manner:

  • I SET my book on the table every night before turning out the light. (She SETS her book on the table.)
  • I SET my book on the table last night.
  • I WILL SET my book on the table tonight.
  • I AM SETTING my book on the table right now.
  • I HAVE SET my book on the table every night for years.

Notice that we never use the words sit or sat to describe the act of putting or placing something or someone.

Lay and lie are especially difficult because the past tense form of “to lie” is lay—the same word as the present tense form of “to lay.” Fortunately, we have no such overlap with “to sit” and “to set.”

Let’s return to our opening sentences:

  1. Yesterday Suki sat in her office all afternoon completing the annual report. Sat is correct because we mean “to recline,” and the past tense form of the verb “to sit” is sat.
  1. When she finished, she sat the report on her boss’s desk. This sentence describes the act of putting or placing something—namely, the report. Because the verb takes a direct object (report), we should use the past tense form of the verb “to set,” which is set. CORRECTION: When she finished, she SET the report on her boss’s desk.
  1. Marcellos sits his books on the hall table every afternoon after school. As in sentence 2, the verb in this sentence describes an act of putting or placing. The books are getting placed on the hall table. Thus, we should have used the present tense of the verb “to set.” CORRECTION: Marcellos SETS his books on the hall table every afternoon after school.
  1. Before Mr. Jones left for the meeting, we set down with him and reviewed the agenda. Here the verb set does not have a direct object; that is, nothing in the clause is getting put or placed. Instead, the verb describes the act of reclining by the subject of the clause, we. CORRECTION: Before Mr. Jones left for the meeting, we SAT down with him and reviewed the agenda.
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Here is a recap of the forms that go with each verb:

  • “to sit” = “to recline” (cannot have a direct object)
    sit, sat, sitting, sat
  • “to set” = “to place” (must have a direct object)
    set, set, setting, set

Keep in mind that when we talk about placing our guests in their chairs for, say, a dinner party, we are seating them, not setting them. “To seat” is also a transitive verb and will take a direct object. We conjugate it thus:

  • Today I SEATED my guests.
  • Yesterday I SEATED my guests.
  • I WILL SEAT my guests.
  • I AM SEATING my guests.
  • I HAVE SEATED my guests.

Remember, too, that the words we use when we conjugate “to sit,” “to set,” “to lay,” and “to lie” can hold entirely different meanings when they are not functioning as main verbs with the definitions addressed in this post and in the one on “to lay” and “to lie.”

For example, set, sitting, and setting

ANSWER: "sit" versus "sat" versus "set."


Happy Monday, Fandom Grammar watchers! Today, we’ll be answering a question submitted by one of our watchers, lanalucy:“What are the differences between ‘sit,’ ‘sat,’ and ‘set?’”An excellent question as both writers and readers tend to mix up these three—particularly “sit” and “set”—quite a bit. Lara and the rest of the characters of Tomb Raider will help us discover the answer.


“Sit” is the first-person singular, second-person, first-person plural, and third-person plural conjugations of the verb “to sit,” which means “to rest the weight of the body upon the buttocks and the back of the thighs, as on a chair” or, more simply, to “be seated.” It applies solely to the person who is performing the act of sitting. An example:Pointing the gun at Lara, Amanda yanked the sword piece from her hands. She then waved her over to a nearby boulder.

Sit. Now,” she said, nodding at it.


“Sat” is the universal past tense conjugation and past participle of “to sit.” An example:The sun was now just below the horizon. The jungle was dark—almost too dark to traverse without accidentally setting off a trap or stepping on a poison snake. And Lara was tired besides. So, instead of moving forward, she found a nearby outcropping of rock, sat down under it, and made a fire.In British English, “is sat” is commonly used in the place of the standard English “is sitting.”  You can read more about this usage in green_grrl's article on the subject.“Sat.” (with a period on the end) serves as an abbreviation for Saturday and the planet Saturn.

Additionally, S.A.T. is the acronym for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, one of two major tests that most American colleges require prospective students to take prior to applying. The S.A.T.

allows colleges to compare the performances of all applicants and then decide which applicants they’ll accept based (in part) on the applicants’ scores. As such, S.A.T. preparation often proves stressful for high school students.

In fact, the stress-inducing process inspired a 2004 film called The Perfect Score, which follows the exploits of a group of high school students who, concerned that they’ll do poorly on the test and thus ruin their chances at success, conspire to steal the answers to the S.A.T. (The other major test is the A.C.T., which stands for “American College Testing.”) An example:

“Here, put this in the ‘get rid of’ box,” Sam said as she shoved a stack of thick books at Lara. She then turned back around and continued ripping through their dorm room closet.“What are these?” Lara asked.

“My old S.A.T. prep books,” she answered. “I’m going to graduate college in three days, so I don’t think I need them anymore.”


“Set” acts as the universal present tense conjugation, universal past tense conjugation, and past participle of the verb “to set” as well as a noun. In contrast to the verb “to sit,” “to set” means “to cause to sit” or “to seat”—that is, to make something or someone else sit or assuming a sitting/resting position. In this fashion, it applies more to the person or item receiving the action than to the person who is performing the action. An example:Before she continued through the temple, Lara set

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