may be, maybe
(A similar topic is discussed in French in the article peut-être/peut être.)
The word maybe and the phrase may be sound alike, but they have different meanings and functions.
May be is a verb phrase made up of the auxiliary verb may and the linking verb be:
- My in-laws may be visiting us next week.
Maybe functions as an adverb and means perhaps:
- Maybe the storm will pass quickly.
Note: Maybe can also be used as a noun:
- When I asked to use the car, I was hoping for a yes, but I got a maybe instead.
To decide whether you should use the one-word or the two-word spelling, try the following substitutions.
- If you can substitute might be, then write may be (two words):
- I may be (= might be) going to Vancouver Island in July.
- If you can substitute perhaps, then write maybe (one word):
- Maybe (= Perhaps) we’ll tour Vancouver Island.
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