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Hi,
I really need your help about present perfect and simple past. I have to decide which to use in the following sentences for example:
A: Why are the flags half-mast?
B: General Hopkins (die). He (never recover) from that last operation.

We (make) a reservation for a twin-bedded room. We hope the hotel (receive) our letter.

Thank you very much.
Comments  
General Hopkins has died. [1] He never recovered [2] from that last operation.

We made [3] a reservation for a twin-bedded room. We hope the hotel has received [4] our letter.

[1] Present perfect shows current relevance to the flag at half-mast. At the present moment the general is dead. That explains the flag situation just now.
[2] His failure to recover happened entirely in the past, not within a time period which includes the present.
[3] (After reading the second part, you realize that "made" really means "wrote to the hotel to see if a reservation was available".) Writing to the hotel and sending the letter happened entirely in the past, not within a time period which includes the present.
[4] Our hope is a present hope that at this time, as we speak, the letter is now at its destination. The receiving of our letter is hoped to be at any time after we sent it all the way up to and including the present moment.

By contextualizing the sample sentences in other ways, you may be able to argue for other choices of tense, but I believe the test makers would prefer the answers I showed above.

Emotion: geeked
Thank you very much, CalifJim!
Now I have another question, about the two forms of present perfect: in what situations would you say

I've been living here for 5 years.
I've lived here for 5 years.

I've been teaching English for 5 years.
I've taught English for 5 years.

She's driven the same car since 1970.
? She's been driving the same car since 1970.

Well, English is not that difficult to learn, but there are some tough points though!
Thank you very much.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
first sentences : you are still living there
second sentences : you have just finished to live there. you have just moved.
Oh, really? What about the sentence with 'drive'?
I thought that whan you said 'I've been living here for 5 years" it implied that there would be a change, that you would be moving soon. And that when you said 'I've lived here for 5 years' you were still living there.
As for 'teach', I had no idea about the difference.
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First, the sentence with the question mark is fine.

All three pairs show the same relationship, but with the third pair reversed!

The ones with "been -ing" emphasize the duration. They suggest a descriptive attitude toward an activity which "has been going on". We should feel the passage of time somehow. These are more "emotional". In the "driving" example, the speaker may be trying to convey disdain, trying to say that it's time for her to buy a new car. The speaker may be pointing out her eccentricity as something comic; or he may be expressing his disapproval. This form is "warmer"; it invites us into the situation.

In contrast, the other members of the pairs are more objective. They simply state the facts, in some cases almost like accomplishments to be listed on a resume.

Aside from these impressionistic differences, the two do not differ significantly in meaning.

Emotion: geeked
Thank you very much!