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Why does the author use "would + have + P.P"? Is it kind of a conditional sentence? Can we use simple past too?

Rob: When was the last time you saw a horse and carriage?

Nil: Well that would have been a while ago- they are quite rare these days.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish...lish/ep-180405

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People often say "Would have been..." about a time in the past when they are not sure exactly when the event being discussed occurred, especially when they are attempting to work out an approximate date or time. When did you last see George? It would have been over five years ago; he has been in Japan that long.

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