An original line from Stratfor's Decade Forecast: 2015-2025, published in February:

The world has been restructuring itself since 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia and the subprime financial crisis struck. Three patterns have emerged. First, the European Union entered a crisis that it could not solve and that has increased in intensity. We predict that the European Union will never return to its previous unity, and if it survives it will operate in a more limited and fragmented way in the next decade.

Why is simple past used first, and then present perfect but not simple past again? It seems to break grammar conventions for consistency of tense.

  • It is always helpful, for both the OP and potential answerers, to cite where the quote is taken from, and when possible, provide a link. In order to explain the grammar, it is sometimes necessary to see the source, and what was said previously.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 7, 2015 at 4:55

2 Answers 2


The simple past talks about a completed action at some point in the past, i.e., the time before right now. So mark a point on the timeline before right now, and that's when the European Union entered the crisis.

The second past is not quite so simple. The first relative clause "(that) it could not solve" modifies "crisis," and the modal verb "could" brings the aspect of possibility (or rather with "not," of impossibility). The past sense of "could not solve" tells us that given what we know now, once the European Union entered the crisis, it would turn out to be unfixable. So the meaning is that the European Union at some point in the past entered an unsolvable crisis.

The second relative clause "that has increased in intensity" also modifies "crisis" but its verb in the present perfect which contemplates not just a point in past time, but any past time up to right now. Since we can't talk about the crisis before it happened, this present perfect is about the time interval between the point the European Union entered the crisis up to the present time. And during that interval things have only gotten more intense.

  • then why would an author not express an idea by saying "that has being increasing" to blow away emerging doubts? In my understanding, if one wishes to show a not intermittent link between past and present, and verbs are applicable for the grammar, then Perfect Progressive/Continuous can be used.
    – Kokoshanel
    Jul 7, 2015 at 6:51
  • They mean slightly different things. The present perfect progressive ("has been increasing") means that throughout the interval in question the things became more intense). The present perfect ("has increased") means that at some point in the interval things became more intense.
    – deadrat
    Jul 7, 2015 at 8:04

First, the European Union entered the crisis
Here simple past is used, because the European Union has already joined.

Note: I think something is wrong with this part here:

crisis it

I think it would sound better with a 'that' or other connector in place.

it could not solve and
Here we see that the problem still exists, and that it remains unsolved. Which is why this would still be present.

that has increased in intensity.
The 'has increased' is noting that since the last past, something has changed. Also in the past, so progressive past.

Conclusion, this sentence read badly. Something like,

First, the European Union entered the crisis, and not only failed to solve it, but even failed in keeping it from increasing in intensity.

would be better, in my opinion.

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