Commonly Confused Words: Maybe vs. May Be

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Maybe is an adverb meaning ‘perhaps’ or ‘possibly’. Here is maybe used in some example sentences: 

  • Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow. 
  • Maybe we’ll go on holiday next year. 
  • Maybe I’ll win the next game.

Together, the words may and be are used to express how possible it is for something to exist or happen.

Here is may be used in some example sentences:

  • We may be late for the party. 
  • That may be true. 
  • We may be waiting for a long time. 

How do I know whether to use ‘maybe’ or ‘may be’?

Try using the word perhaps in your sentence instead. 

Let’s try it with out example sentences for the word maybe:

  • Perhaps it’ll rain tomorrow. 
  • Perhaps we’ll go on holiday next year. 
  • Perhaps I’ll win the next game.

Now let’s try it with our example sentences for may be

  • We perhaps late for the party. 
  • That perhaps true. 
  • We perhaps waiting for a long time. 

While the first group of sentences make sense, the second group of sentences don’t mean anything. 

As a rule, if you can get the word perhaps to work in your sentence, use maybe. If you can’t, use may be. 

You can find a list of all our Commonly Confused Words blog posts here.

15 Apr 2021
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One of the students has put in a huge amount of effort in completing Spellzone at least 3 times a week since his arrival with us in January. Looking at his scores after the latest GL testing, his standardised score has risen from 99 to 131. This is a truly phenomenal result. I just wanted to share the best result I have ever seen.

Terrie Penrose-Toms, Casterton College