Collocations, idioms, and phrasal verbs with SET

English collocations with SET

set the table = arrange the table in preparation for eating; put plates, bowls, glasses, napkins, utensils, etc. on the table

  • “Kids, could you please set the table? We’ll be eating in 10 minutes.”

set a fire / set something on fire = cause something to start burning with fire

  • “Some fireworks accidentally hit the house next door and set the roof on fire.”

set an alarm = schedule/program an alarm to sound (go off) at a certain time

  • “We’re leaving at 9 tomorrow morning, so you should set your alarm for 8:00.”

set sail = begin a journey on the ocean in a boat

  • “The weather was windy and cold when we set sail from Alaska.”

set a record = establish/create a record; do something better than anyone has done it before

  • “One athlete set a record for the fastest time in Olympic history.”

set a good/bad example = establish/show some behavior that can influence others for good or bad

  • “You shouldn’t swear around kids; you don’t want to set a bad example for them.”

set a precedent = establish a situation that could become a tradition or will be used as reference for future similar situations. It usually refers to a legal decision that may be considered a standard for future cases.

  • “The case in 1998 set a precedent that drunk drivers should be punished severely.”

set a trap = prepare a piece of equipment to catch an animal, or prepare a strategy to catch, trick, or hurt an unsuspecting person

  • “The hunters set a trap for foxes.”

set foot = enter a particular place or step on a particular area

  • “If you ever set foot on my property again, I’ll call the police.”

English idioms and expressions with SET

(something) is all set = it’s completely ready/finished

  • “Just sign the application here, and then you’re all set!”
    (you’ve finished the application)

set your heart/mind/hopes/sights on = desire something, want to get it or do it

  • “She’s set her sights on attending an elite university.”

dead set on/againstextremely determined to do something or extremely opposed to something

  • “He’s dead set against his daughter marrying an ex-convict.”
  • “My friend is dead set on getting a dog, even though I tried to convince her not to do it.”

set the record straight = correct a mistake or misunderstanding

  • “I want to set the record straight – it wasn’t me who ate the last piece of pizza.”

set in your ways = having a fixed attitude/routine and not being very open to change or new ideas

  • “My manager is very set in his ways. He doesn’t even like to upgrade the software on his computer.”

not set in stone = flexible, not confirmed or final

  • “We’re hoping to go on vacation the last weekend in August, but it’s not set in stone yet.”

set the stage for = make preparations for another activity to occur

  • “This meeting will set the stage for our partnership.”

English phrasal verbs with SET

set apart = make something noticeable and distinct from others

  • “The quality of his work is what really sets him apart from his competitors.”

set aside = put something to the side because you will not use it at the moment (or because you will use it later)

  • “She set aside the dictionary and continued reading the novel.”

set back = cause a delay. The noun form “setback” can also be used for an event that delayed things

  • “We found some problems with the house that set the renovations back two weeks.”
  • “He has succeeded despite a lot of setbacks in his life.”

set something down = put it down

  • “He set the hammer down on the table.”

set in = begin to happen (often used for seasons, trends, feelings, etc.)

  • “Three months after moving to the city, regret set in.

set off = begin a journey or cause/trigger an event (especially an alarm or explosion)

  • “We set off on our hike early in the morning.”
  • “The ball hit the car and set off the alarm.”
  • “The announcement of the new law set off a wave of protests.”

set out = begin a journey or display things for viewing

  • “We set out on our hike early in the morning.”
  • Set out all the products that are on sale so the customers can see them.”

set up = establish, assemble, or prepare a structure for use

  • “The workers set up the circus tent in less than an hour.”