Is there any difference between these two phrases?

For example, are they interchangble in these two sentences:

  • I've been putting money aside to buy a piano.

  • The international body put aside October 1st to tackle the new outbreak of Ebola.

4 Answers 4


No substantial difference between the two. They refer to exactly the same action.

  • They do refer to the same action, however not necessarily the same flavor of action. To me, put aside implies obvious ease vs set aside implying care & necessity (I expand on the answer I provided) It's kinda like 'Honey BBQ Chicken Wings' vs. 'Spicy Devil Chicken Wings'... both chicken wings, but one goes down sweet & easy and the other comes out as a scolding reminder Nov 20, 2018 at 13:37

As a Canadian, we use "put" in most instances where an American would use "set". The exception would be a stock phrase, such as "set the table." I have noticed since moving to the States that everyone here uses the word "set" where a Canadian would use "put". For Instance: "Where is my hair brush?" Oh! I set it on your dresser!" Or "where should I set this mug?" Or "I set your shoes by the door for you". In my experience (51 years old, 48 years living in various different parts of Canada) in every one of these instances A Canadian would use the word "put". We certainly understand the word "set" but it sounds strange and maybe a little fussy and unnatural to our ears.


There is no difference in the phrases "put aside" and "set aside" when they are used to save money or time or keep a period of time free in order to use later for a particular purpose.

These phrases are interchangeable in the sentences mentioned in the question.


For me, "put" is open to interpretation of how to carry out the action.

"Put your things on the counter." (could be dropped, tossed or thrown. The outcome is the only thing that matters)

On the other hand, "set" has a gentle, elegant or careful meaning to it. (e.g. "Set the table")

"Set your things on the counter." (The actor takes care when placing the things)

So how does this fit with "Set aside" vs. "Put aside"?

For me:

"Set aside $100" would imply care, importance, and necessity.

"Put aside $100" would imply easy, simple, obvious.

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