Would you please take a glance at the links? Would anyone possibly show me what is the difference between them?

That is, I am wondering what is the difference between these:

Sit yourself at the table
Set yourself at the table

Any help would be appreciated

  • This is a very interesting question (+1). I really wonder sit yourself... is a valid expression simply to say 'sit'. Also, using the preposition 'at' for a piece of furniture as a place to sit is difficult to understand. We sit on table, why at?
    – Maulik V
    Oct 30 '14 at 11:07
  • 2
    A table is not for sitting on. To sit "at" the table means to position oneself with respect to the table, up close to it, and facing it. Oct 30 '14 at 16:56
  • @TRomano Ah, I thought of this. Also, stool is often referred to table in India. :(
    – Maulik V
    Oct 31 '14 at 6:08

I have gone through both the links and could figure out the following meaning and difference.

  1. Sit yourself at the table means - there is this table with a few chairs around it. So it only means to sit (on a chair at the table) to take some rest.

  2. Set the table phrases is used for arranging the things needed for a meal on the table. 'Do you want me to set the table?' means 'Do you want me to arrange things for the meal on the table? - So the sentence in the e-book is 'Do not set yourself at the table to sit alone' means - you should wait for the other members to join you for a meal or have your meal with them and not alone. I have no idea about the story but i think it is related to etiquettes and manners. So this explanation fits.

If you happen to go in a hotel then what expression will the waiter use among the above two. He'll say --

Sit yourself at the table. Your order will be served there.


In today's English, you sit yourself at the table. The example from your second link is outdated (it is from the early 1800s).

In the two sentences you ask about,

My goodness what do we have here? You look as though you have been traveling for a very long time. Please ---- sit yourself at the table. I will bring you something to wash your hands.


When you receive company, show great kindness to all you receive; invite them to make good cheer; let them be well served...When the day appears, do not set yourself at the table to eat alone: nothing is more unpolite. Place your guests near you in a neat apartment [apartment here means "room"].

there is NO difference in meaning between
sit yourself at the table
set yourself at the table.

In regard to these particular sentences, both sit and set are
1. transitive verbs
2. used in the imperative mood
2. meaning to cause to sit or to seat
3. with a reflexive pronoun as the direct object

In sum, the meaning in both sentences is Cause yourself to sit down at the table or Seat yourself at the table.

However, it is important to note

1) Set and sit both have a long history in English (we're talking since the 700s or 800s).

2) There is a technical difference between set and sit.

3) This difference has been mistaken and/or ignored for about 700 years. ("Confusion between set and sit arose as early as the beginning of the 14th century"--Oxford English Dictionary.)

4) The second passage you link to is from a book published in 1817. Its usage of set is outdated. In contemporary English, only some dialects maintain this usage of set.

So the "mainstream" of native English speakers would not use set to refer to people being in or placing themselves or others in a sitting position. So, if you want to sound like most modern Native English Speakers, use sit at the table.

Examples of older uses (From OED):

1719 D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe (Globe) 15 We..set us down to fish.
1845 Dickens Chimes i. 30 You must always go and be a settin on our steps, must you!
1848 Thackeray Vanity Fair lv. 490 I'm thinkin' if I set here until I'm paid my wages, I shall set a precious long time, Mrs. Raggles; and set I will, too.

  • Well researched +1. But how come please---sit yourself... has an imperative mood?
    – Maulik V
    Oct 31 '14 at 6:13
  • 2
    @Maulik V Hi. I assume you know what the imperative mood is, so I'm not really sure if I know what you are asking. Please sit yourself at the table, Please, sit down, Please, have a seat, Please come in, Take your coat off and stay awhile, Come in, Pick a card, any card. These are all in the imperative mood. The imperative is for issuing orders, or telling someone what to do. Have some more tea is an "order," although polite.
    – user6951
    Oct 31 '14 at 13:13

One sets something somewhere.

One sits oneself down somewhere.

Set is transitive. Takes a direct object: the something. It means to put a thing down on a surface.

Sit is intransitive. No direct object, rather intransitive + reflexive (oneself).

P.S. When sit is used transitively, it involves seating other people somewhere, finding a place for them to sit, as in a restaurant.

P.P.S. Examples of "set yourself down" are usually examples of regional dialect.

  • Or, also regional but slightly more grammatical, "Set your butt down in that chair." Sometimes I wonder if "Set yourself" was actually a verbal contortion of "seat" used as a verb: "Seat yourself at the table.".
    – ColleenV
    Oct 30 '14 at 18:47

One more phrase to be aware of (for the sake of completeness):

Seat yourself at a table.
Or, the opposite: "(wait to) be seated"

This refers to the coice of one chair/place/table among many:
In many restaurants in the US, an employee (the "host" or "hostess") has the task of greeting customers and choosing a table for them. This has partly to do with assigning work to the wait staff, partly tradition.
The same principles apply at formal gatherings like weddings or dinner parties, where places are assigned to guests in a pre-arranged manner.

"Seat yourself" means no such restrictions apply and the guest may choose wherever he wants to sit.

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