Main Difference – Maybe vs. May be
At first glance, both Maybe and May be might look the same to you. The only apparent difference between maybe and may seem to be the space in between may and be in may be. However, it is this space that differentiates the meaning as well as the usage of the two words. Maybe is an adverb that means possibly or perhaps whereas may be is a modal verb. This is the main difference between maybe and may be.
Maybe – Meaning and Usage
Maybe is an adverb that means possibly or perhaps. It is always written as one word. We use maybe in a sentence to indicate possibility or uncertainty.
Maybe, I won’t return.
She was standing maybe 50 or 60 feet away.
Maybe you didn’t understand what he was saying.
In spoken English, we can use maybe as a response when we are not certain about something or when we agree that something is possible.
A: I shouted his name few times, but he didn’t hear me.
B: He’s deaf, maybe.
A: I shouted his name few times, but he didn’t hear me. I think he’s gone deaf.
May be – Meaning and Usage
May be is a modal verb. Here, may and be are two separate words and be is the auxiliary verb. May be also indicates a possibility. The best way to remember how to use may be is to keep in mind that may be always follows the subject of the sentence. You can observe this feature in the examples given below.
He may be rich, but he is not intelligent.
This may be the best article on the website.
There may be a train at this time.
Many people tend to make the mistake of using maybe in place of may be and may be in place of maybe. This misuse distorts the meaning of the entire sentence.
Our lecturer was absent yesterday, so he maybe absent today as well. May be our lectures will be cancelled until he returns to work.
Look at the above sentence carefully. You will note that may be and maybe has been used incorrectly. Therefore, the above sentence is grammatically incorrect. This should be written as,
Our lecturer was absent yesterday, so he may be absent today as well. Maybe our lectures will be cancelled until he returns to work.
Difference Between Maybe and May be
Number of Words
Maybe is written as one word.
May be is two separate words.
Part of Speech
Maybe is an adverb.
May be is a modal verb.
Maybe can be used at the beginning or end of a sentence.
May be generally follows the subject of the sentence.
Maybe means perhaps or possibly.
May be means is possibly.
“”A man may be down but he’s never out!” LCCN2002709069” by Duncan, Frederick – Library of CongressCatalog: (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons