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The Verb Setzen

While studying German, you have probably confronted both sitzen and setzen. Generally, the verb sitzen is quite straightforward in simply meaning "to sit," or more specifically "to be sitting." The reflexive verb sich setzen is also translated as "to sit" but refers to the action of sitting down (there is also the verb sich hinsetzen which can be more or less a synonym). 


Wir sitzen hier am Strand in der Nähe von Todos Santos und sind am Meer.

We are sitting here on the beach near Todos Santos and are by the sea.

Caption 3, Anna - Am Strand in Mexiko

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Wo setzen wir uns denn hin? -Setzen wir uns da drüben hin. -OK.

Where should we seat ourselves then? -Let's sit over there. -OK.

Caption 1, Fernsehmoderatorin - Sonya Kraus

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To remember the distinction, it is perhaps helpful to consider that setzen as a non-reflexive verbs means "to put," "to place," or "to set." 


Die helfen mir, noch leichter Ziele zu setzen.

They help me to set goals even more easily.

Caption 15, Gamification - Wie Spielen den Alltag interessanter macht - Part 2

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Setzen is also the root of a multitude of verbs. Take a look at the following examples with einsetzen ("to use," "to implement"), absetzen (which is used in many contexts, from "to deduct" something for your taxes to "to remove" a pair of glasses), and besetzen ("to occupy").


Früher hat man mehr als zwei-, dreitausend Liter eingesetzt für einen Wohnungsbrand.

In the past they used more than two or three thousand liters for an apartment fire.

Caption 88, Feuerwehr Heidelberg - Löschfahrzeug - Part 1

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Den Helm hatte er abgesetzt, weil's so heiß war.

He'd taken off the helmet because it was so hot.

Caption 53, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 9

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Man sollte keine Plätze besetzen mit Taschen oder mit Jacken, damit andere Gäste sich hinsetzen können.

You shouldn't occupy seats with bags or with jackets so that other guests can sit down.

Captions 33-34, Unterwegs mit Cettina - Bahn fahren

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Further Learning
Here is a list of verbs with setzen as their root for your perusal. Look for examples of some of these verbs, such as aufsetzen, durchsetzen, or umsetzen, on Yabla German. Try to searching for their participles as well!

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