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1) Since I was born, my family ______(separate) without contact.
2) He was very optimistic every day before his wife ________(pass) away.

My teacher told me that it should be used present perfect in (1) because "my family" still separate "now"
However, it should be used past in (2)
I don't understand as definitely "his wife" is not alive "now".

I am also quite confused about the use of present perfect and present perfect continuous.
I guess one of the approaches which is common to them that they describe something in progress up till the recent past/ present but the effect(maybe emotionally) still existing
Am I right?
So, can we just simply say that there is nearly no difference between them?

3) Peter has worked in Hong Kong.
4) Peter has been working in Hong Kong.
If Peter doesn't work at the recent past, so what's the difference between (3) and (4)?

I'm sorry that I am so weak in English that cannot express the meaning clearly.
If I am wrong, please correct me.

Thanks so much!
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Anonymous1) Since I was born, my family __(separate) without contact.I should think present perfect, passive voice (has / have been separated)
"family" may be singular or plural, so you may use either "has been separated, or "have been separated"

2) He was very optimistic every day before his wife ________(pass) away. simple past tense (passed)

My teacher told me that it should be used present perfect in (1) because "my family" still separate "now"
However, it should be used past in (2)
I don't understand as definitely "his wife" is not alive "now". Both tenses in (2) can be simple past, since the word "before" indicates "before he died."

I am also quite confused about the use of present perfect and present perfect continuous.
I guess one of the approaches which is common to them that they describe something in progress up till the recent past/ present but the effect(maybe emotionally) still existing
Am I right?
So, can we just simply say that there is nearly no difference between them? I don't think that would be terribly useful.

3) Peter has worked in Hong Kong.
4) Peter has been working in Hong Kong.
If Peter doesn't work at the recent past, so what's the difference between (3) and (4)? They both definitely state that he worked there at some time in the (recent) past, and they both neither confirm nor deny that he's working there at present. The continuous definitely has a closer link to the present, although the actual time is not definite.

"What do you hear from Peter?" (reply) "Peter has been working in Hong Kong." We get the feeling that this is fairly recent information. We feel like we're "in touch" with Peter. He might still be working there. It seems like if he were not, the person would have said so.

"Have you heard anything from Peter?" (reply) "Peter has worked in Hong Kong." Both the question and the answer lack intimacy. They also lack the currency of the continuous version. Although the time factor is not specific, we sense that the information and the connection are stale, as compared to the continuous version.
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1) Since I was born, my family __(separate) without contact.

Since I was born, my family has been separated without contact.
The separation began at my birth (or before) and has continued until this day.

2) He was very optimistic every day before his wife ________(pass) away.

He was very optimistic every day before his wife passed away.
He was optimistic every day before this event happened: His wife died.

(Of course she's not alive now; she died; that is, she passed away. That event happened in the past.)

the use of present perfect and present perfect continuous.
3) Peter has worked in Hong Kong.

Peter worked in Hong Kong at some period which began and ended in the past, say, from last August to last December.

4) Peter has been working in Hong Kong.

Peter worked in Hong Kong at some period which began in the past, say, last September, but which has not ended yet; he is still working there.

CJ
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Comments  

He was very optimistic every day before his wife passed away
I think u can write this sentence using Past perfect:
He had been very optimistic every day before his wife passed away
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Hi. Are you sure when we use a present perfect tense like the one below, it indicates that he is still working there and not just you are not sure about whether he has stopped working?

You wrote:

4) Peter has been working in Hong Kong.

Peter worked in Hong Kong at some period which began in the past, say, last September, but which has not ended yet; he is still working there.