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Joined: January 25, 2006  (email not validated)
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"Would" is a modal auxiliary verb, so it can be used to express doubt or expectation. In the given dialogue, we do not have any information on the inflection of speaker B's voice, so there is no way to determine the level of doubt. In a spoken dialogue, you would hear the doubt in B's voice, if there was any doubt. The fact that there is no explanation point tells me that B is not excited to see Ms. Roberts, and therefore is probably just being pompous.

You should avoid this ambiguity in your own writing. If B is not sure, that should be clear, e.g., "I think its Julia Roberts." Do not use an adverb, e.g., "That would be Julia Roberts," speaker B said doubtfully. Awful.

Glenn January 25, 2006, 7:55pm

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