‘Set' vs 'Sit': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on April 13, 2023

‘Set’ and ‘sit’ sound very similar, but what’s the difference between these words? Below, we’ll go over the definition and meanings of both words. Plus, you’ll learn how to pronounce and use both words in a sentence correctly.

Need a quick answer?

Here it is:

  • ‘Set’ is a verb that means to place something somewhere.
  • ‘Sit’ is a transitive verb that means to be seated.

These words might look similar, but they have different meanings. So, avoid using them interchangeably in your writing.

When to Use ‘Sit’ vs. ‘Set’

As you learned, ‘sit’ means to be seated, and ‘set’ means to place something down. But you might have heard someone tell you to ‘sit’ something down on the table.

So, how do you know which to use and when?

  • Use ‘sit’ when you’re referring to people.

For example, you might hear someone say:

Go over there and sit down. You’ve got too much energy!

  • Use ‘set’ when you’re referring to objects.

For example, you might hear someone say:

We’re going to set up your new account login today.

Basically, use ‘set’ with things and ‘sit’ when it comes to people.

How to Use ‘Sit’ vs. ‘Set’ Correctly

We learned that both words are verbs, but the first one means to be seated (usually in a chair, on a couch, or on a bench).

For example:

  • You ‘sit’ down at the table for dinner.

The second one means to place something somewhere.

For example, you might:

  • Set’ the table by setting dishes and silverware down on the table.

In popular sitcoms from the 80s and 90s, such as The Nanny and Full House, you might see the families ‘sit’ down to eat dinner together.

  • One of them might ‘set’ the table before everyone eats.

In the case of The Nanny, it was usually Niles, the butler, who ‘set’ the table.

Definition of ‘Set’: What Does ‘Set’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘set’ is:

  • To cause to sit (place in or on a seat).

It could also mean:

  • To put (a fowl) on eggs to hatch them
  • To put (egg) for hatching under a fowl or into an incubator
  • To place (oneself) in a position to start running in a race
  • To place with care or deliberate purpose with relative stability
  • Transplant
  • To make (a trap) ready to catch prey
  • To fix (a hook) firmly into the jaw of a fish
  • To put aside (something, such as dough containing yeast) for fermenting
  • To direct with fixed attention
  • To cause to assume a specified condition, relation, or occupation
  • To cause the start of
  • To appoint or assign to an office or duty
  • Post or station
  • To cause to assume a specified posture or position
  • To fix as a distinguishing imprint, sign, or appearance
  • Affix
  • Apply
  • To fix or decide as a time, limit, or regulation (prescribe)
  • To establish the highest level or best performance
  • To furnish as a pattern or model
  • To allot as a task
  • To adjust (a device and especially a measuring device) to a desired position
  • To restore to normal position or connection when dislocated or fractured
  • To spread to the wind
  • To put in order for use
  • To make scenically ready for a performance
  • To arrange (type) for printing
  • To put into type or its equivalent (as on film)
  • To put a fine edge on by grinding or honing
  • To bend the tooth points of (a saw) slightly alternately in opposite directions
  • To fix in a desired position (as by heating or stretching)
  • The act or action of setting
  • Direction of flow
  • The manner of fitting or of being placed or suspended
  • Intent, determined
  • Intentional, premeditated

Phrases Containing ‘Set’

  • Set foot on
  • Set eyes on
  • Set aside
  • Set apart
  • Set about
  • Set forth
  • Set forward
  • Set in motion
  • Set one’s heart on
  • Set it off
  • Set one’s sights on
  • Set one straight
  • Set sail
  • Set the stage
  • Set to music
  • Set upon

Definition of ‘Sit’: What Does ‘Sit’ Mean? 

The same dictionary defines ‘sit’ as:

  • To rest on the buttocks or haunches.

It could also mean:

  • Perch, roost
  • To occupy a place as a member of an official body
  • To hold a session (be in session for official business)
  • To cover eggs for hatching (brood)
  • To take a position for having one’s portrait painted or for being photographed
  • To serve as a model
  • To lie or hang relative to a wearer
  • To affect one with or as if with weight
  • Lie, rest
  • To have a location
  • Of wind: to blow from a certain direction
  • To remain inactive or quiescent
  • To take an examination
  • Babysit
  • To please or agree with one (used with and an adverb)
  • To cause to be seated (place on or in a seat – often used with down)
  • To sit on (eggs)
  • To keep one’s seat on
  • To provide seats or seating room for
  • The manner in which a garment fits
  • An act or period of sitting

Phrases Containing ‘Sit’

  • Sit under
  • Sit tight
  • Sit pretty
  • Sit on one’s hands
  • Sit on

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Set’ and ‘Sit’

Are you wondering how to pronounce these words?

Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce ‘set’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


To pronounce ‘sit’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Set’ and ‘Sit’ in a Sentence 

Now that you know what the words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see some examples of how to use them in sentences.


  • Can you set those brightly colored plates down on that table over there? I need to start getting everything ready for the Mommy and Me Luncheon.
  • We were just about to help you get everything set up for the assembly. Do you think we need more chairs on stage for the speakers?
  • Let’s get your new account set up. We’re so glad you’ve decided to partner with our company. I just know that we’re going to do great things together.
  • We have a set of China I think you’d love. Come with me, and we can take a look at a few sets we have in stock. They’re a bit on the higher end, but that’s not an issue, right?


  • I don’t like the way this dress sits on me. I think I should try another one. I need to see some other options, please.
  • We don’t have to sit here. This is a big theater, and no one else is here. Let’s go to the back and get the best seats at the top.
  • Can we sit down for a minute? We’ve been shopping sales all day long. I’m tired, and I think I need some food.
  • My teacher always tells us to sit down because we’re constantly getting out of our seats to do things.

Final Thoughts on ‘Set’ and ‘Sit’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • Set’ is a verb that means to place something somewhere.
  • Sit’ is a transitive verb that means to be seated.

These words might look similar, but they have different meanings. So, avoid using them interchangeably in your writing.

If you ever get stuck on anything, feel free to come back here to review what you learned. We’ve also got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases. You might find it helpful as you’re learning the language. Go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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