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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    A brief hostory of the essay would start...

    Hi,

    Consider these two sentences:

    The essay is the basic short form of nonfiction. A brief history of the essay would start in the late sixteenth century with Montaigne writing essays (endeavors), letting the subjective and the objective interwine into a new form of prose. (Italics original)

    This is how Susan M. Tibergien starts the subsection "The Personal Essay" of her book "One Year to a Writing Life". Could you please explain the use of "would" in the second sentence? What purpose does it serve? Would the same sentence but without this "would" have a different meaning?

    Thanks,
    nyggus

  2. #2
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: A brief hostory of the essay would start...

    If someone were to write a history of the essay, the history would start with something set in the late sixteenth century.

    Omitting "would" would remove the conditional aspect of the sentence.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Re: A brief hostory of the essay would start...

    Thanks, GoesStation and Piscean. I should have seen this. Indeed: the history of the essay started then, and so a brief history of the essay would start then.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: A brief hostory of the essay would start...

    Montaigne is the first name given in the list in this actual history of the essay:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/40246392...n_tab_contents

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