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what is difference between these two sentences in terms of meaning and how can I use characteristic and feature figuratively

the characteristics of modern life has changed a lot.
the features of modern life has changed a lot.

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They're very similar, but "characteristic" generally refers to more abstract things than "feature." For example,

One important characteristic of the coronavirus is that it becomes contagious before symptoms start.

but

One important feature of the coronavirus is the spike protein it uses to enter cells.

Note that both "characteristics" and "features" are plural, so you'd use the plural form of the verb:

The characteristics of modern life have changed a lot.

The features of modern life have changed a lot.

"Feature" also has a few special meanings: particularly, a specific function of a device or computer program

My favorite feature of my new phone is wireless charging.

or in the the plural, to refer to someone's face:

The actor was known for his handsome features.

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