Sit vs set

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Sit and set are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation but are used in very different circumstances; they are often confused. We will look at the difference in meaning between the irregular verbs sit and set and how they are used, where these words came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Sit means to take a posture in which one’s weight is balanced on one’s buttocks and one’s back is straight. One may sit in a chair, on a bed, on the floor, on a stool, or any number of other places. Sit may be used as a verb to mean 1.) to take a sitting posture; 2.) to cause someone else to take a sitting posture; 3.) to accommodate a number of people taking a sitting posture; 4.) to take a seat in a governmental, judicial, academic, or business institution. Sit is conjugated as sit, sits, sat, sitting. The word sit is derived from the Old English word sittan, which means to occupy a seat.

Set means 1.) to place or lay an item down; 2.) to be situated in a certain place; 3.) to place a story in a certain place and time; 4.) to mount a gem; 5.) to place dishes and cutlery on a table; 6.) to establish an example; 7.) to fix a value or price on something. Set is conjugated as set, sets, set, setting. The word set is derived from the Old English word settan, which means to firmly put in place. Remember, sit is used when talking about occupying a seat metaphorically or physically taking a sitting posture. Set is used when talking about an object or place.


“People will always want to sit down at a table and be served fine food and wine in a beautiful atmosphere. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

“I would sit around the house and play my guitar every day, but I really missed playing for people. (The Herald-Banner)

Set amidst the gray fog of Winden, a fictional small town in Germany, the show opens with the disappearance of a young boy, Mikkel. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

“The table, set for one honors the men and women who served in America’s armed forces and are missing from our ranks.” (The Marshalltown Times Republican)