When to use it instead of "It seems..."

Below is a screenshot of a cutscene from the video game World of Warcraft. The character Lord Stormsong" was talking to "Queen Azshara" while the players approach, and Queen Azshara says

It would seem you have guests

Why use "would" here instead of simply general tense "It seems"?

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  • The optional inclusion of the modal pushes the register towards the highfalutin' unless there is a real need to hedge. Aug 30 '20 at 18:25
  • "It would seem" is starchier and sounds more Warcraftish.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 29 '20 at 21:19

The verb “to seem” already implies uncertainty. The implication of using would seem vs seem is to increase the uncertainty of predicate. In other words, maybe they are guests... or are they something else? Alternatively, it indicates that at some point uncertainty existed greater than normal, a changed probability of certainty. It could have started out that they were something other than guests. But now, it would seem they were guests. It means uncertainty greater than normal exists.

Hope that helps.

  • I don't agree; I believe it's purely a matter of register. Aug 30 '20 at 18:26

They are equivalent in meaning and may safely be used interchangeably.

I see only pale shadows of difference between them that may reflect my personal experience rather than any rule. "It seems ..." is a more neutral statement of possibility. "It would seem ..." sometimes has overtones of detachment from the circumstances, or of admitting that the speaker's perception could be euphemistic or even wrong. "It would seem (to others perhaps, although I realise that she is probably your mistress) that you have a guest."

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