set your heart on: meaning and explanation

If you set your heart on something or have your heart set on something, then you desperately want it, and it is deeply important to you that you get it or achieve it. e.g. Theresa has set her heart on getting a job as a pilot when she leaves university.

This expression communicates the idea that getting or achieving this thing is emotionally important to you – you will be very sad or disappointed if it doesn’t happen. In fact, a useful way of using this expression is to talk about someone not getting what they want. e.g. Poor little Michael was very upset because he had set his heart on getting a new bike for Christmas.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: North America

Josh , .
Josh his studying medicine, hope he he needs.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Ireland

, .
I’ve on a new laptop, but it’s while save up.

About the sentence

…It’s going to take a while for me to save up…

The phrasal verb to save up is used to talk about saving money, usually for something specific. e.g. She’s moved back in with her parents to try and save up for a house deposit.

Notice the useful structure to take time for someone to do something, e.g. It took 5 years for Jose to work up the courage to ask Annette to marry him.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)

I my heart an explorer growing up.

About the sentence

…I remember having…

The verb to remember can be followed by either a gerund (doing) or an infinitive (to do), with a change in meaning.

If you remember doing something, first you do something and then you remember. e.g. I remember learning to ride my first bike when I was 5 years old.

If you remember to do something, first you remember something and then you do it. e.g. Did you remember to book next Monday off work?

Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Is there anything that you have your heart set on at the moment? You can answer with the structures “my heart is set on sth/doing sth” or “I have set my heart on sth/doing sth”.
  • Tell me about a time that you were very disappointed because you didn’t get something that you really wanted.

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