In everything I can find online, the constructions [N1]を[N2]とする[N3] and [N1]を[N2]とした[N3] are lumped together as basically having the same meaning. Is there any difference between them?

My textbook contains the following examples:

We will make a club with Yamada as the leader.

I watch TV programs about environmental problems.

Would there be any difference in nuance if とした was used in the first example and とする was used in the second?

  • I don't know about the nuance, but in relative clauses, both した or する can often be used instead of している. For some abstract verbs, all the three forms occasionally become the same.
    – Yang Muye
    Sep 7, 2014 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


I feel like that there is actually a subtle difference but I also think that I might not ever have thought about it had I not seen this question. In that sense, I appreciate the question.

Are we native speakers required to be aware of the difference? No, I do not think so unless one wants to write professionally.

I think that "[N1]を[N2]とした[N3]" sounds more indirect, oblique or roundabout regarding the [N1] than in "[N1]を[N2]とする[N3]". The former with した sounds just slightly more "informal" or even colloquial/conversational at times because of the indirectness. The latter with する has an "official" feel to it.



There is a little more emphasis placed on the choice of 「山田」 as the leader in A) than in B), but both are correct and presentable .



In C), it sounds like the speaker would watch TV programs that are more loosely related to environmental issues than implied by D). In D), the speaker seems more selective of the programs being about environmental issues.

  • Thank you for answering, I was interested in this too: Does する sound more natural in the first example and した more natural in the second?
    – Tim
    Sep 9, 2014 at 12:12
  • 3
    I was discussing this with a Japanese friend yesterday. If I understood correctly (the conversation was in Japanese), she felt that the nuance was that する indicated something that could possibly change at a later date, while した indicated something more fixed. In the above example, one can imagine that Yamada won't always be the leader of the club. The TV show, on the other hand, has been made and isn't going to be changed. Did you have an opinion on this? It was a little different to your answer.
    – pyrmont
    Sep 11, 2014 at 2:42

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