Distinguishing Between Sit & Set

Sit and Set are two verbs in the English language that often cause confusion, not just because of their similar pronunciations but also because of their somewhat similar meanings. These two verbs are among the most misused in English and are also difficult for students of the language to understand. If you know the difference between lie and lay, it becomes easier to discern the difference between sit and set. This article examines the two verbs more closely to highlight their differences.


Set is a transitive verb used to describe the act of placing an object or objects in place on or upon a surface. Set retains its form whether used in the present or past tense. The verb is always used when talking about a thing or an object. You can set a book on the shelf or a pillow on the bed, but do not make the mistake of using set when your coffee is placed on the table by saying the coffee is setting on the table. Also, you cannot ask your friend to set down on a chair, as the correct verb is always sit. You cannot sit on the shelf, but you can always set showpieces on the shelf. Consider the following examples to understand the meaning and usage of set:
– Set the plates on the dining table.
– The postman sets the mail according to the pin codes.
– It is my duty to set the table for dinner every night.


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 its spelling changes when used in the past tense. Here are some examples of the verb set to clarify its meaning:
– The old man in the queue needs to sit down.
– We got a chance to sit in the front row at the concert.

Key Takeaways

  • Sit means to be seated, while set means to place an object on a surface.
  • You sit on a chair, but you set plates in the shelf or books on the table.
  • Sit is intransitive and does not require an object, whereas set is transitive and requires an object.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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