Using maybe and may be

Maybe is an adverb. It can be used in the following ways.

Maybe can modify an entire sentence.

  • Maybe she will come.
  • Maybe we will win.
  • Maybe you should leave her alone.

Maybe can be used before a number.

  • There were maybe 100 people at the meeting.

Maybe is used when you are not sure whether something is true or whether something will happen.

  • Maybe she will come.
  • Maybe it will rain tonight.
  • Maybe Amelie was right when she said that I needed to mend my ways.
  • ‘When will you finish the work?’ ‘I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow.’

Maybe is used when you are guessing a number.

  • It may cost maybe 200 dollars.
  • The whole process will take maybe 15 minutes.

Maybe can be used to make a suggestion.

  • Maybe you should get another job.

Maybe and may be

The adverb maybe is often confused with the verb may be.

Maybe means the same as perhaps.

  • Maybe you are right. OR Perhaps you are right.

May be is the equivalent of ‘could be’.

  • There may be a strike next week. (NOT There maybe a strike next week.)
  • She may be unhappy with the developments. (NOT She maybe unhappy with the developments.)
  • There were maybe fifteen people at the meeting. (NOT There were may be fifteen people at the meeting.)
  • She is maybe fifty. (NOT She is may be fifty.)

Note that maybe is preferred in an informal style. In a more formal style, we use perhaps.