Session 4

Vocabulary: 11 uses of 'set'

Sit back and enjoy the story of Far from the Madding Crowd and learn 11 different ways to use the word 'set'

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2

Activity 2

A story of love, heartache and tragedy

Will Bathsheba and Troy live happily ever after
How do you think the story will end?

A) Troy and Bathsheba live happily ever after
B) Troy jumps off a cliff and so Bathsheba is free to marry Mr Boldwood
C) Mr Boldwood kills Troy and is sent to prison - and Bathsheba marries Gabriel
D) Something else 

To do

Watch the video to find out which option is correct. And listen out for five more uses of set.

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Hi again. It's Mariam. Let's continue our story about love, heartache and tragedy.

Bathsheba has just married the handsome Sergeant Francis Troy. Let's see what happens next. 

Months later, there's a setback. Bathsheba discovers that a woman that Troy had got pregnant and was set to marry, has died in childbirth. Bathsheba feels indirectly responsible but is relieved when Troy disappears. Troy's clothes are found by the sea and most people assume that he has died.

A year later, her neighbour Mr Boldwood is still crazy for Bathsheba and is still set on marrying her when she legally becomes a widow. She finally agrees and Mr Boldwood throws a big party but guess who turns up? Yes, it's Troy. The jealous and angry Mr Boldwood sets on Troy and shoots him dead. Mr Boldwood is arrested and sent to prison.

This leaves Gabriel - who's been loyally working on Bathsheba's farm. She realises his goodness and they finally get married and are all set for a happy life together.

So everything works out well for Bathsheba. Well, that's the end of this story. I hope you enjoyed it and I'll see you for another one soon. Bye for now.


To do

So, the correct answer was C) Mr Boldwood kills Troy and is sent to prison - and Bathsheba marries Gabriel. Lucky Gabriel!

We're now going to set you a quiz to help you practise the different uses of set. Have a go!

What's the use of 'set'?

5 Questions

We've set this fun quiz to test how well you can use set! Choose the best expression with set to fill each gap.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you

How was that? We're going to set you one final task - it's now time for you to tell us a story! It can be a true story or an imagined one - but it must be your own original work. Try to use as many of the phrases with set as possible:

  • set 
  • set his/her sights on
  • dead set against
  • sets off 
  • set out 
  • sets him/her off
  • setback  
  • set on
  • all set 

Email your story to us at Make sure you write 'set story' in the subject line and in your email too. Unfortunately, we can't give individual feedback, but we do read every email, and we’ll publish our favourites here or on our social media sites.

Your stories

Mario, Italy

Lately, I have been become dead set against pollution, so I have decided to do something. Firstly, last week I bought a new set of energy-saving bulbs to replace all the incandescent lamps within my house. Since I was set on doing more, I set off to search my neighbourhood for the cheapest seller of electrical appliances. I found both a TV set and a washing machine set to also make my electricity bill less expensive. I have also set my sights on solar panels but there are a few setbacks about the installation on my house’s roof. Today my house is almost all set for saving a lot of energy and saving me some money.



This story set in certain village thirty years ago where some tribe lived by farming and keeping animals.

But time at time there was a setback on their farming progress because of the drought time after time.
When their animals died of the drought and their plants dried it sets them off thinking of leaving their farms.
And many young men set off to live in cities.
Also their girlfriends have set their sights on following them.
However their elders were dead set against their idea of leaving home.
But after they had left some time later it rained and those who had left in the village sets out to preparing farms for planting.
And when crops grew and all set for harvesting .when strange animals invaded their farms ,however ,they set on them and they run away.
When finally news reached the cities to peaples who had left the village they set on returning back.
However some of unfaithful neighbours had set to annex other neighbours farms to their.


Teresa Linde

My story sets in Málaga. Nowadays I am looking for a job, and I set my sights on being teacher in a school with children with disabilities. My flatmate, Ikram, is dead set against that idea because she thinks that it is a difficult job with too much unexpected events, for example, depending on the kids’ specific needs, you will have to teach in a different way each guy. I don’t agree with her because teachers have to adapt their teaching according to personal needs in any case, working with children with or without disabilities. And that is the reason that I think teaching is very interesting.

I am thinking [about] setting off to find this position in a school here or abroad. So I set out to learn English to do well an interview in this language in case I obtain a job opportunity overseas. Then I will be all set.

Some weeks later, Ikram sees me so confident that it sets her off [thinking about] travelling together to achieve a job in a foreign country. We talk about this possibility and we agree to set [about] searching for work abroad. But just in the time in which we are going to book the airline tickets there is a setback, we realise that our papers aren’t in order because the identity cards have expired. Then we decide to change our plans, and we set to look for a job elsewhere inside the country. Wish us good luck!

BBC Learning English says:

Thanks for this great story and well done for using ‘set’ correctly in many examples.


Chiara, Verbania, Italy

This story is set in a hen-house. 

A fox set her sight on eating [NOTE: you set your sights on doing something] the hens and set out to search the way to eat one or more of them. 

The dog was dead set against it.

One night the fox set off to find a hole into the fence. When it was all set there was a setback. The fox trampled on  deadwood. The noise woke up the dog and set him off barking. So the fox didn't set on the hens and got away.

So the hens lived happy from then on (I hope so).



‘Ubatubas Beach’

My story sets [is set] in Ubatuba city. Ubatuba is set near Caraguatatuba city, North of São Paulo coast.

This place has a beautiful vegetation and a lot of beachs, my family always set their sights on going there. There is a nice view, dead set against [this means someone’s viewpoint is ‘completely opposed to’ it doesn’t describe a location] a Urban city.

Our familyt set out went to [‘set out’ means ‘went’, so don’t use both] Ubatuba city when I was a child. My father sets off bying a house at Lazaros´beach. He sets him off [this means ‘causes him to’ so you need to explain what it causes him to do] because we need a place to stay at Summers Vacations.

Nowadays I´m all set married and I never have came back Ubatuba.

I´ll set a trip for this pleasant place, I miss there...



That's the end of Session 4. In session 5, Tim's in the pronunciation workshop. Don't miss it!

Session Vocabulary

  • set (B2) 
    (a story) situated in a particular time and/or place

    set their sights on (C2)
    have a particular goal (to do something)

    dead set against (C1)
    completely opposed to

    sets off (B1)
    starts a journey 

    set out (C2)
    started doing something in order to achieve an aim

    sets him off (C2)
    causes him to start

    setback (C1)
    problem that causes a situation to be delayed or get worse

    set (B1)

    set on (B2)
    determined to achieve

    sets on (B2)

    all set (C1)

    A1 = Beginner
    A2 = Elementary
    = Lower Intermediate
    B2 = Higher Intermediate
    C1 = Towards Advanced
    C2 = Advanced