Maybe vs. May Be

Hooray, I got a question from the Peanut Gallery!

Richard from Canberra, Australia, asks via iThing:

“I think your Technical Writing blog is an excellent, fascinating and helpful resource.

I was wondering, could you look at “maybe” and “may be” for me?”

Sure thing, Richard.

Both expressions indicate a possibility or probability, but they differ.

Maybe is an adverb that means “perhaps.”

If you can substitute “perhaps” and it makes sense, then use the single word “maybe.”


Maybe I’ll get a chance to go to OTC next year.

Perhaps I’ll get a chance to go to OTC next year.

“May be” is a verb with a modal auxiliary, and this expression is generally interchangeable with “might be.”


“You may be right, I may be crazy, HEY, but it just might be a lunatic you’re looking for.”

(from the Billy Joel song “You May Be Right”)
To sum it up:

If you can substitute “perhaps,” use “maybe” (one word).

If you can substitute “might be,” use “may be” (two words).


Funny Typo of the Day:

The Wellness Team at work sent out a memo today about carotid artery screening.

Among those listed as good candidates for such screening were those with “irregular heartbreak.”

Apparently that is much worse for your arteries than consistent, regular heartbreak.

So take heart, ye brokenhearted!

Profound Quote of the Day:

“I’d rather be a Could-Be if I cannot be an Are;

because a Could-Be is a Maybe who is reaching for a star.

I’d rather be a Has-Been than a Might-Have-Been, by far;

for a Might-Have-Been has never been, but a Has was once an Are.

– Milton Berle, American comedian, 1908-2002



One Response to “Maybe vs. May Be”

  1. Richard Says:

    Thanks for explaining the difference for me in such a clear way. And I can see that you had fun doing it – even better!

    Regards … Richard

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