Throughout Mum's pregnancy, which had been textbook, he had noted Mum's smaller belly, and had suspected something wasn't quite right. But without all the whiz-bang technology we have today— ultrasounds, amniocentesis, DNA testing— his concerns would remain nothing more than a hunch.

Source: My Life In Short

Why has the writer opted for would remain and not remained?

What's the difference in meaning, if any?

  • 2
    I think the tense is opted with respect to the time of the pregnancy and his thoughts at that point of time. He was thinking of the future event, that the concerns would not be answered. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Jan 20 at 15:01
  • 1
    Please, cite the source so people understand it's a life story – Andrew Tobilko Jan 20 at 15:02

The events are in the past, and the writer (who is the child involved) is looking back on them from a time well after the events. Thus "would remain" is chosen, to indicate that the concerns remained a hunch for a time period now long ended, specifically through the end of the pregnancy when the birth revealed the actual condition.

This form, with "would" followed by a present-tense verb, is used (among other purposes) to describe situations that existed for a time, but are now over, or a condition still existing, but regarded from a past moment. Often the ending time is indicated by "until" or a similar word, but that can be omitted, as it is here. This form is also used for a habitual past action.

Some examples:

  • The problem would continue until we examined the valve.
  • John would often ride his bicycle to work.
  • After the glacier melted, the heap of stones it moved, known as a terminal moraine, would remain.
  • While neither side agreed to a compromise, the deadlock would persist.

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