In this sentence,

The investment in equipment last year ___ a significant increase in sales.

Between "is causing" and "has caused", I think I have to use "has caused". However, my friends told me that if I want to use "has caused", sentence has to be corrected "over the last year", and not "last year". Can anyone explain this to me?


Whether or not to include over the before last year is largely just a stylistic choice, but...

If you do include over the, this strongly implies that multiple investments were made on several occasions, or continuously. If you don't include it, that interpretation is still possible, but it's also possible the entire investment took place on a single occasion.

The difference between using (Past1) has caused or (Present) is causing here is exactly what you'd expect - use the latter if the process is still ongoing, otherwise use the former.

The logic of the real-world situation in the specific example may make it difficult to decide whether you want to describe the "increase in sales" as an ongoing process, so it might help to consider a more clear-cut alternative...

1: The covid lockdown is causing great distress
2: The covid lockdown has caused great distress

...where #1 strongly implies the lockdown is still in force (and people are being distressed right now), but #2 could be used during or after a lockdown (possibly even "after the distress", if that distress is still "relevant" to the current situation).

1 In case this is confusing, note that Present Perfect (has caused) is used to reference things which happened in the past, but which are either still happening or still relevant at time of speaking. But as pointed out above, it might be a matter of opinion whether "causing an increase in sales" is "relevant" and/or "ongoing" in OP's example.

  • No offense meant, but has caused is not past. It is present perfect. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Oct 22 '20 at 13:49
  • No offense taken, but you're mistaken. Despite the name, Present Perfect IS a "past tense" verb form. From Grammarly: The present perfect tense refers to an action or state that either occurred at an indefinite time in the past (e.g., we have talked before) or began in the past and continued to the present time (e.g., he has grown impatient over the last hour). – FumbleFingers Oct 22 '20 at 14:03
  • Oh I see. You were talking in reference to the past instances. I get it now. I have read that Grammarly article 10 times or more already. I thought you might have typed the name of the tense incorrectly in a rush. No problem Thanks for the clarification! – Dhanishtha Ghosh Oct 22 '20 at 14:16
  • Actually, it's good you've flagged it up. Even if you can now see what I meant, obviously the name of the tense is potentially confusing for others, so I'll edit to reflect this. – FumbleFingers Oct 22 '20 at 14:33

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