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Set Up Vs Setup: Differences, Uses, And Examples

by subhasree nag
Last Updated on: September 23, 2023

There have been articles where we have discussed homophones earlier. Like bear with it and bare with it, inquire and enquire, which sound almost similar but have different meanings. But here we are going to talk about something that sounds familiar and has the same set of spellings but are different parts of speech. I am talking about set up vs setup. 

Both have the same spellings, as well as the same meanings, but they are different parts of speech, and they have different sets of grammatical rules and cannot be interchanged among themselves. 

Here we are going to discuss how they are different from one another and what their uses are, and we will go through some examples to get things clear. 

Set Up vs Setup – The Difference

Set Up vs Setup The Difference

Setup is basically used as one single word when it is an adjective or a noun. It is used as two different words that have been together like a set up when it is used as a verb


  • It was a setup! In this case, this is used as a noun.
  • Follow the given setup information. Here it is used as an adjective.
  • He is going to set up my laptop. In this case, set and up are two different words that are put together to be used as a verb.

How Can The Word “Set Up” Be Used?

We have often seen some publishers and writers using a hyphen while using the word set-up. When we are writing the word together or putting a hyphen in the middle, then it does not function as a verb. 

Using the noun setup refers to a way in which something has been kept or positioned. And using the verb phrase set up means preparing something or getting things in order. 

This phrasal verb dorm is made of an intransitive and transitive verb and a preposition as well. Merriam-Webster defines the term as “to place in a higher position or to place in view.”

Set is a verb that is irregular in the past and present tense. Irregular verbs are those where the past tense does not end with ‘ed.’ it only changes the spelling when it is used in the progressive tense.

When it is used as a transitive verb, the phrase set up is followed by a direct object. For example, you can set up something or set something up.

A few examples are given below:

  • Set up the decoration before the chief guest arrives.
  • Thank you for your assistance in setting up my desktop.
  • You are doing pretty good at setting up the place all by yourself.
  • It is almost time to set the stage up for the main attraction.
  • Set up the stage for the opening act, and make no mistakes.

Synonyms Of Set up

  • Build
  • Go into
  • Build up
  • Arrange
  • Establish
  • Construct
  • Open
  • Assemble
  • Create
  • Put up

Examples with Synonyms of Set Up

  • He paused, to build the suspense.
  • So they said, We must go to a new country far away and build schools and houses and churches and make new cities.
  • Concessions have been obtained by the French government to build a line of railway from the Tongking frontier at the town of Laokay via Mengtsze to Yunnan-fu.
  • She arranged an appointment for Friday afternoon at four-fifteen.
  • The prime minister threw the carefully arranged welcome into chaos.
  • He started to arrange the books in piles.
  • She had been trying to assemble the bomb when it went off in her arms.
  • The building block set took over four hours to assemble.
  • Foil dinners are easy to assemble and cook.
  • Once you know a number of chords, you can begin to assemble them into different ways to create songs.
  • He was putting up a new fence at his home.
  • I put up boards on all the windows.
  • After dinner, Connor helped Jackson put up the shutters, then they sat down for a drink.
  • The company is constructing 70 homes and a 130-room hotel on the land.
  • You will find it difficult to construct a spending plan without first recording your spending.

How Can The Word “Setup” Be Used?

The single term setup is a noun that means a way in which something has been positioned. A few examples are given below for your better understanding.

  • This year the carnival setup is going to be frozen-themed.
  • She did a classroom setup conducive to learning. 
  • All my setup is about functionality and simplicity.
  • The setup of the laptop is not much difficult if you are actually following the instructions.
  • The setup instructions are confusing him very much.

The word setup can also be used as an adjective as it can modify another noun. It is a noun that turns itself into a word to describe another fellow noun. A few examples are given below.

  • Can you help me understand the setup instructions please?
  • They have assigned 10 minutes as the setup time for the gaming console.
  • The setup crew is trying very hard to get it done on time.
  • The setup time for the new instruments is only fifteen minutes.

This word can also be used to describe a scheme that can deceive someone. For example:

  • He walked into the setup very easily.
  • They are planning to create a setup to get the criminal arrested.
  • She walked right into the setup that his brother created.

It is also an American English spelling of a noun, but remember there is more than one way to get this word spelled without changing the definition of the term.

Synonyms Of Setup

  • Configuration
  • System
  • Format
  • Structure
  • Arrangement
  • Situation
  • Organization
  • Layout
  • Plan
  • Composition
  • Plan
  • Foundation
  • Order

There are some other synonyms that are used when setup is used as a scheme to deceive someone.

  • Put-up job
  • Trick
  • Frame-up
  • Conspiracy
  • Frame
  • Trap

Example sentences with synonyms of setup

  • It would be difficult for schools to plan for the future.
  • We are planning a new kitchen.
  • What we need is a plan but let’s give it until tomorrow to clear our minds.
  • I’m sure we can come to some arrangement
  • She phoned Ellen, but made no arrangements to see her.
  • I’m not interested in an arrangement with you.
  • He tried to recall the layout of the farmhouse.
  • An open-plan layout may not suit all companies.
  • It could also be easier to experiment with new formats and to push the successes globally.
  • What do you love about the short story format?

Can Set-Up Be Hyphenated?

Spellings can be a bit tricky. Another version of the spelling setup is set-up. This is mostly used in British English. This also has the same meaning, but it is a hyphenated compound noun. For example:

  • The PC set-up he has is not good for gaming.
  • The set-up is already done.

Set-up can also be used as an adjective. For example:

  • The set-up that they have given in the office is easy to follow.
  • The company required a fee of $10 to set-up the new furniture.

Both words are correct as long as you are using those as an adjective or a noun. This means if you are saying beautiful set-up or beautiful setup, both are correct. If you are writing set-up time or setup time, both mean the same.

But when you are writing a text, make sure you use the same spelling throughout. But don’t get confused between set up or setup. If your target audience is American, stick to the one-word noun, and while writing for an audience in the UK, use the hyphenated spelling.

Final words For Set Up vs Setup

I hope this article has been helpful to you and that your concept for using setup or set up is clear by now. But here is a recap if you need it.

  • Setup is used as an adjective and noun that means arranging something or arrangement.
  • Set-up and setup are the same, and their meaning is the same as well; one is used in British English, and one is used in American English.
  • Set up is used as a verb that means to get things in order.

I hope the confusion about set up vs setup will end here.

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