Understanding English Grammar – phrasal verbs ‘set’ part 2

Here are some more common expressions using the verb ‘to set’ combined with particles:

‘to set something off’ means to cause it to start or happen.

  • The smoke from my cooking set the smoke alarm off.
  • The proposals for a new shopping centre have set off a very heated debate in the town.

‘to set someone off’ means to start them laughing, crying or talking.

  • Every time Jake used that silly voice, it started me off laughing.
  • Kelly started crying and that set everybody off too.

‘to set on’ means to begin a physical attack.

  • If I went into the garden, she said she would set the dog on me.
  • Coming out of the pub, he was set on by a gang of boys and his money stolen.

‘to set out’ is to start on a journey.

  • We wanted to get there before lunch so we had to set out just before dawn.
  • They packed their bags and set out early as they had a long walk.

‘to set out’ to do something means that you have a clear idea of what you intend to achieve.

  • We didn’t achieve what we’d set out to do.
  • He didn’t set out to invent the microwave oven. He discovered it while doing other research.

‘to set out’ facts or opinions is to explain them clearly in writing or in speech.

  • All the terms and conditions are set out in this document.
  • Your terms of employment are set out in your contract.

‘to set something out’ is to organize it so that it is ready to use.

  • When I arrived all the materials and equipment were set out ready for use.
  • The chairs were set out in a circle ready for the class to begin.

‘to set up’ means to start a company or organization.

  • After a few years developing the products, they needed to set up a company to sell them.
  • The UN was set up when representatives of fifty countries signed the charter in 1945.

‘to set up’ also means to make arrangements for a meeting, a committee, or an investigation.

  • I’d like to discuss that in more detail. Can we set up a meeting with everyone concerned?
  • The government has set up a committee to investigate possible fraud.

‘to set up’ a structure or building means to erect it.

  • It took almost an hour to set up the tent in the rain.
  • The Police set up road blocks throughout the county to try to find the thieves.

exercise1

exercise 2

exercise 3

29 thoughts on “Understanding English Grammar – phrasal verbs ‘set’ part 2”

  1. also set is used with the following
    1- Setback : To hold back to a later time
    2- Set apart : To select something or someone for a specific purpose
    3- Set in a : Enter a particular state
    b- become established : Winter has set in
    c- blow towarde the shore <That gale could set in on us with the next high tide

    4- Set about : taking the first steps in carrying out an action

    5- Set up : to trick someone

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  6. Hello,
    thank you for your effort first of all. I don’t understand the difference between “set off” e “set out”, both mean “to start a journey”, so when should I use either one or the other?
    Thank you
    Stefania

    1. ‘set off’ has more the idea of beginning something.

      She set off to go to work twenty minutes ago so she has probably arrived by now.

      ‘set out’ has more the sense of something difficult or complicated.

      She set out on a five day walking trip through the mountains.
      I set out to prove that Hanratty had not been guilty of the crime.

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