English Phrasal Verbs

Practice your English with Caroline Brown


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 form 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.


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