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Set vs. Sit

As any fan of Scrabble knows, one little letter can make all the difference. Furthering the confusion between set and sit is the fact that they’re often pronounced similarly. It’s time to set things straight — you may need to sit down for this!


  • Look at him, setting there.
  • Sit that lottery ticket right here.
  • She couldn’t set down fast enough.


Sit is one of the first verbs that children and dogs learn. Because it’s so direct and almost primal in its immediacy, let it be your first choice when your body is involved. When you sit down, your action is complete. Set is for other things: objects, teacups, and lottery tickets. When you set something down, you need an item — a lottery ticket, for example — to place on the table.


Sit is an intransitive verb, which means that it is complete as is, and it doesn’t need an object. Set is transitive, which means it always needs to connect to an object in the sentence to be correct. Transitive verbs transfer action to an object, whether it’s a teacup or a great book.

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