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How do you write something that was discussed in the past, while the issue still exists in the present?

  1. The discussion resulted in the committee members highlighting crucial areas that need to be addressed if one is to achieve the desired outcome......
  2. The discussion resulted in the committee members highlighting crucial areas that needed to be addressed if one were to achieve the desired outcome......
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2 Answers

Both are possible, and the difference is one of focus rather than objective fact. The first implies that the issue still exists in the present; the second does not imply that, but neither does it imply that the issue no longer exists.

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Hi Colin, thanks so much, much appreciated. I was pulling my hair out a tad over the two..... :) –  Christopher Jun 27 '12 at 10:29
    
By the way, I am already in love with this site, it's awesome! –  Christopher Jun 27 '12 at 10:31
    
Colin, it isn't clear to me why "both are possible", because the second item seems to have an uncomfortable clash between the past-tense needed and subjunctive were to achieve. Isn't some rephrasing like "areas that needed to be addressed to allow achieving..." (or some such) needed? –  jwpat7 Jun 27 '12 at 16:55
    
I see no clash in those tenses. –  Colin Fine Jun 29 '12 at 16:41
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If you want to express that the problem still exists, you should refer to it in the present tense. Note that it is quite possible to use words to describe the DISCUSSION in the past tense, but the PROBLEM in the present tense. For example, "Yesterday we discussed [past] a problem that is troubling [present] our nation."

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