Here is the piece from one of the books from the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:

However, a guild is different than a band. A guild implies an organization with membership rolls. It would have a financial structure, which would include member dues or some other means of securing funds. It would have rules of conduct or behavior.

What does "would" mean in this case? According to the official Russian translation, it appears to be something like "must".

2 Answers 2


Since the fragment talks about a hypothetical guild (not a specific one), it uses subjunctive to show the hypothetical characteristics. "Must" is a stronger verb suggesting some kind of higher order, duty of sorts. "Would" indicates a suggestion, a supposition about something that doesn't exist in reality.


Would is used to express verbs that have a conditional meaning. While conditional statements often have signal words like if, then, when, etc. this isn't always the case.

Would have, would include, would have all express an action that would exist only if "a guild implies an organization with membership rolls" is true.

Must works here and can be considered a "stronger" version of would.

If X is Y because anything Y must be A, B, C - then Y is not X if A, B, C are not true.

If X is Y because anything Y would be A, B, C - well, we are leaving open the possibility that X could still be Y because of some other reason if A, B, or C aren't true.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .