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There is a particular sentence that has raised some questions among my private tutors.

不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要___下去。

You're asked to determine whether 持续 or 继续 is correct, or that both are correct.

The correct answer according to the answer model is:

Both

Both of my private tutors believe it should be:

继续

They argue that the first clause indicates that your life stops at the moment you're happy or sad, for instance, when you've lost your wife, you will feel terrible, not go to work and only lie in bed. At that time, your friends can say:

不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要继续下去。

I know that the main difference between 持续 and 继续 is that 持续 indicates that the action doesn't stop from beginning to end (continuously), while 继续 indicates that there is be a stop during the action (to continue).

Question: What should be the correct answer, backed by reasoning and preferably sources.

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I prefer to use 继续 in the context. Here is why :

持续 can be construed as 保持 + 继续. E.g. 会议持续招开了两个小时 means the meeting is in the 召开 state and keep(continue with) that state for two hours. However, 生活 in this context is a generic concept and it doesn't specify what kind of life you want to persist. In other words, it doesn't specify in what way 生活 would be continuing.

持续 would be more accurate if the sentence is put as: 不管你是快乐还是难过,"这样的生活"总是要持续下去。 It's because with 这样的生活, we clearly know how 生活 will be continuing.

So, 不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要继续下去 is more accurate. It means generally 生活 will 继续/continue no matter the way it is, and no matter how you feel -- happy or sad.

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继 (follow up/followed by); 续(continue)

继续 = (follow up/followed by and) continue

Example: 他父親死後, 他仍继续經營他們的家庭餐館 (After his father died, he continued to run their family restaurant.)

~

持 (maintain/ stay); 续(continue)

持续 = (maintain/stay and) continue

Example: 人民币对美元兌換价持续上升 (The exchange rate of RMB against the US dollar continues to rise)

It suggests the situation has been staying the same for a while and is continuing now

Back to your question's example:

不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要(继续)下去。(Whether you are happy or sad, life always has to continue)

不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要(持续)下去。(Since there's no mention of what situation this life is in, 持续 is not a proper term to use.)

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If you stated what situation this life is in, then you could use either 持续 or 继续

For example:

不管你願不願意,(刻苦的)生活仍要(继续)下去 = Whether you want it or not, (hard) life still has to (continue) - (continue from this point on)

不管你願不願意,(刻苦的)生活仍要(持续)下去 = Whether you want it or not, (hard) life still has to (continue) - (stay the same as you have been for a while)

Similarly:

"不管打風下雨,工作仍要(持续)下去" is awkward. The sentence doesn't state what kind of work has been performed

"不管打風下雨,(巡邏的)工作仍要(持续)下去" is proper. Now we know the 'patrol' work has been performed for a while and is continuing now

Using either 持续 or 继续 in the same sentence change the meaning slightly, but they would both be correct

Example:

人民币对美元兌換价持续上升 (it has been raising and is continuing now)

人民币对美元兌換价继续上升 (it is still raising followed by previous report)

Finally, just remember 持续 can be translated as "maintain/keep on/continue" . If you can replace 'continue' with 'maintain' in a sentence, then you can use 持续 instead of 继续

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Compare these 2 sentences:

坚强一点, 战争不会一直持续下去的.

不管你是快乐还是难过,生活总要继续下去。

The differences are between 持 and 继, and not about stop, but what is you want to stress on.

If you want to emphasize current status, use 持. So in the 1st sentence, current is bad, but it won't last forever.

If you want to emphasize the future, use 继. In the 2nd sentence, we want to put our eye on future.

In the first sentence: 战争不会一直续下去的. is also very common. There is not much difference.

But if we say 生活总要持续下去 would be sound odd.

Sometimes, it is hard to explain, just behaviour and convention.

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持续 represents a trend, where as 继续 is an action.

So, 持续:lasting;继续:continue to。

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