For me, it's hard to figure out what 'would have [past participle]' means in these sentences because the meaning seems to vary in different sentences even though the forms are the same. Would it make sense if I change 'would' to 'might' or 'could'?

a) I would have thought there was nothing in that to disturb me. But I felt uneasy, and I wasn't sure why at first.

b) I'm pretty sure I caught my cold from Jason who would have picked it up at school.

c) She is a very famous comedian. You would probably have seen her in a lot of movies these days.


This site has a pretty good explanation:

We use would have as the past tense form of will have:

  • I phoned at six o’clock. I knew he would have got home by then.
  • It was half past five. Dad would have finished work.

We use would have in past conditionals to talk about something that did not happen:

  • If it had been a little warmer we would have gone for a swim.
  • He would have been very angry if he had seen you.

"Would have" is simply the past-tense form of "will". Rewriting the sentences you gave in the present tense gives the following:

a) I will think there is nothing in that to disturb me. (Doesn't really make sense, because the sentence was meant to be in the past tense, but you can see the meaning)

b) ...Jason, who will pick it up at school.

c) You will see her in a lot of movies...

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