I am currently studying Japanese and one of the recent grammar points I ran into is the construct「〜を中心[に・と]する」.

I was wondering whether the choice of particle has any particular connotation, or whether there is any sort of rule for deciding which one to use.


2 Answers 2


IMO 中心とする sounds slightly more pretentious (or at least formal) than 中心にする. E.g. it's natural to say この枝を中心にして焚き火を組み立てよう, but unnatural to say この枝を中心として焚き火を組み立てよう because it's an odd word choice for such a mundane situation. Conversely, 天皇を中心にした社会 sounds oddly "light" and temporary compared to the more natural 天皇を中心とする社会.

If I focus on the difference in nuances, I think を中心とする sounds more settled or robustly supported, whereas 中心にして feels more temporary and not yet "confirmed". Hence, if I hear この箱を中心にする the decision may or may not have taken place (yet). Whereas if I hear この箱を中心とする the decision has already been taken (in the speaker's mind).

That said the difference is subtle and it's still ok to say things like 太陽を中心に惑星が公転する (even though that is clearly settled).

  • Aに: A ←
  • Aと: " A "

So, ~を中心に feels like you are setting something at the center by moving yourself like when you are targeting the object, while ~を中心とする feels like you just regard something that is already fixed there as the center.

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