[Vocabulary] A brief hostory of the essay would start...

nyggus

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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
 

GoesStation

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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.
 

nyggus

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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.
 
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