Using perhaps

The words maybe and perhaps mean the same. In British English, they are both common.

Maybe is preferred in an informal style. Perhaps is slightly more formal. Both perhaps and maybe can go at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Maybe she will come. OR Perhaps she will come.
  • Maybe she didn’t recognize you. OR Perhaps she didn’t recognize you.
  • King Lear is perhaps the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays.

In American English, perhaps is not very common. In fact, it is considered as rather formal.

Perhaps is an adverb. It can be used to modify an entire sentence.

  • Perhaps you are right.
  • Perhaps we have met before.

Perhaps can also be used as an ordinary verb. In this case, it goes before a number.

  • He was perhaps 80.

Perhaps is used to suggest that he was not certain about something.

  • He was perhaps drunk. (I am not sure, but I have got this feeling that he was drunk.)
  • She is perhaps not interested in the offer.
  • She is perhaps the oldest among them.
  • It is perhaps not a good idea for a ten-year-old to be active on Facebook.

Perhaps is also used when you are guessing a number.

  • There were perhaps ten boys in the group.

Perhaps can be used when you are making a suggestion/polite request or giving advice.

  • She doesn’t look well – perhaps she should see a doctor.
  • Perhaps we could all go out and watch a movie.

Perhaps is also used to express an opinion politely.

  • Perhaps she should resign.
  • She is perhaps the most talented player in the team.

Perhaps is often used in polite replies when you do not completely agree with what has been said.

  • ‘He must have missed the train.’ ‘Yes, perhaps.