Idiomatic expressions with set

Here is a list of idiomatic expressions using the word set.

Set the stage for something

To set the stage for something is to create the right conditions in which something can happen.

The government rejected the demands of the transport union and that set the stage for an indefinite strike.

Set the standard

To set the standard is to do something so well that others will have to try hard to achieve similar results.

You cannot set the standard unless you know what you really want to achieve.

Set the table

To set the table is to put the plates, forks, knives etc., on the table. The expression ‘lay the table’ has very similar meanings.

Set someone to work

To set someone to work is to make them work for you.

As soon as I said that I was free, he set me to work.

Set someone to work doing something

She set the boy to work washing the windows.

Set to work

To set to work is to start working with lots of enthusiasm.

We have fixed the roof; now we will set to work on the kitchen.

The expression set to work can be followed by an –ing form or a to-infinitive.

After fixing the roof, we set to work (on) painting the walls.

After fixing the roof, we set to work to paint the walls.