The Past Tense of Set: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Have you ever got stuck on the correct past tense of the word set in English grammar? This article will explain the conjugations of the irregular verb set and also define set and give you all the information you need about using the word properly in the English language.

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What Is the Definition of the Word Set?

The word set is defined as:

Intransitive verb 

  • to pass below the horizon; sink:
    • The sun sets early in winter.
  • to decline; wane.
  • to assume a fixed or rigid state, as the countenance or the muscles.
  • (of the hair) to be placed temporarily on rollers, in clips, or the like, in order to assume a particular style:
    • Long hair sets more easily than short hair.
  • to become firm, solid, or permanent, as mortar, glue, cement, or a dye, due to drying or physical or chemical change.
  • to sit on eggs to hatch them, as a hen.
  • to hang or fit, as clothes.
  • to begin to move; start (usually followed by forth, out, off, etc.).

Transitive verb 

  • to put (something or someone) in a particular place:
    • to set a vase on a table.
  • to place in a particular position or posture:
    • Set the baby on his feet.
  • to place in some relation to something or someone:
    • We set a supervisor over the new workers.
  • to put into some condition:
    • to set a house on fire.
  • to put or apply:
    • to set fire to a house.
  • to put in the proper position:
    • to set a chair back on its feet.
  • to put in the proper or desired order or condition for use:
    • to set a trap.
  • to distribute or arrange china, silver, etc., for use on (a table):
    • to set the table for dinner.
  • to place (the hair, especially when wet) on rollers, in clips, or the like, so that the hair will assume a particular style.
  • to put (a price or value) upon something:
    • He set $7500 as the right amount for the car. The teacher sets a high value on neatness.
  • to fix the value of at a certain amount or rate; value:
    • He set the car at $500. She sets neatness at a high value.
  • to post, station, or appoint for the purpose of performing some duty:
    • to set spies on a person.
  • to determine or fix definitely:
    • to set a time limit.
  • to resolve or decide upon:
    • to set a wedding date.
  • to cause to pass into a given state or condition:
    • to set one’s mind at rest; to set a prisoner free.
  • to direct or settle resolutely or wishfully:
    • to set one’s mind to a task.
  • to present as a model; place before others as a standard:
    • to set a good example.
  • to establish for others to follow:
    • to set a fast pace.
  • to prescribe or assign, as a task.
  • to adjust (a mechanism) so as to control its performance.
  • to adjust the hands of (a clock or watch) according to a certain standard:
    • I always set my watch by the clock in the library.
  • to adjust (a timer, alarm of a clock, etc.) so as to sound when desired:
    • He set the alarm for seven o’clock.
  • to fix or mount (a gem or the like) in a frame or setting.
  • to ornament or stud with gems or the like:
    • a bracelet set with pearls.
  • to cause to sit; seat:
    • to set a child in a highchair.
  • to put (a hen) on eggs to hatch them.
  • to place (eggs) under a hen or in an incubator for hatching.
  • to place or plant firmly:
    • to set a flagpole in concrete.
  • to put into a fixed, rigid, or settled state, as the face, muscles, etc.
  • to fix at a given point or calibration:
    • to set the dial on an oven; to set a micrometer.
  • to tighten (often followed by up):
    • to set nuts well up.
  • to cause to take a particular direction:
    • to set one’s course to the south.
  • Surgery. to put (a broken or dislocated bone) back in position.
  • (of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of (game) by standing stiffly and pointing with the muzzle.


  • the act or state of setting or the state of being set.
  • a collection of articles designed for use together:
    • a set of china; a chess set.
  • a collection, each member of which is adapted for a special use in a particular operation:
    • a set of golf clubs; a set of carving knives.
  • a number, group, or combination of things of similar nature, design, or function:
    • a set of ideas.
  • a series of volumes by one author, about one subject, etc.
  • a number, company, or group of persons associated by common interests, occupations, conventions, or status:
    • a set of murderous thieves; the smart set.
  • the fit, as of an article of clothing:
    • the set of his coat.

What Is the Past Tense of Set?

The past tense of set is also set. 

An example of present and past tense:

Can you set the table, please?

I set him up on a date. 

How Do You Conjugate Set?

Here are some conjugations of the English verb set including the past tense verb forms:

Base Form/Infinitive: To set

Past participle of set: Set

Present participle/gerund: Setting

Past perfect tense: Had set

Present perfect tense: Have set

Present TenseSimple Past TenseFuture Tense
I setsetAm setting
You setsetAre setting
Third-person he/she/it setssetIs setting
We setsetAre setting
They setsetAre setting

The History and Origin of the Word

The word set has been used before the year 900 A.D. The Middle English spelling of the word is “setten” and the Old English spelling of the word is “settan”. This was similar to the world Norse “setja” 

Examples of the Word in Context


Next time you need to write the word set, you will be well prepared for everything you need to know what it is and how to use it efficiently. You should feel confident with the different conjugations, the history of the word, and the definition to learn English like a pro!