What are the meanings of the four sentences below?

When it comes to the sense of making something the central person/thing, the verb centre bothers me. Because I'm not sure if this verb would change the meaning of a particular sentence when the verb takes turn to be in an active voice and to be in a passive voice or it would remain the same meaning.

At first, I thought that...

Subject(a) centres on/around object(b) would mean Subject(a) makes object(b) the central person/thing.

and Subject(a) is centred on/around object(b) would mean Subject(a) is made as the central person/thing by object(b).

... but now I think my explanation was wrong because the following two pairs seem to go against my understanding.

  • 1a. Her research centres on the social effects of unemployment

    1b. Her research is centred on the social effects of unemployment.

  • 2a. Leisure activities largely centred around the family

    2b. Leisure activities were largely centred around the family.

So What are the meanings of the above four sentences?


1a and 1b are basically interchangeable (they can switch places without it changing the meaning or effect, they do the same job)

2a and 2b are different tenses. "Were" makes it past tense, as in

"last week the activities were largely centered around the family"


"this week lets do activities largely centered around the family"

  • So then do you think 2a would mean "Leisure activities took place around the family", while 2b would mean "Leisure activities 'was surrounded' by the family"? – Pith Apr 6 '20 at 1:17
  • I disagree with the assessment of 2a)/2b) - both sentences are in Simple Past. 2a) uses the Simple Past form of "to centre", 2b) uses the Simple Past form of "to be centred". Your last example uses "centered" as a past participle adjective, but that's not applicable to 2a) - because if you interpret "centred" in 2a) as a past participle adjective then 2a) isn't a complete sentence. – Maciej Stachowski Sep 11 '20 at 1:03
  • (in other words, either both sentences are in the same tense, or 2a) doesn't have a tense in the first place) – Maciej Stachowski Sep 11 '20 at 1:14

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