Difference Between Maybe and May be

Maybe vs May be

Maybe and may be look and sound same but connote different meanings and are therefore used in different contexts. It is easy for a native to differentiate between the nuances of the two words but someone who is trying to pick up the language later in his life is bound to be confused with this style. There are differences between maybe and may be that will be highlighted in this article.


‘Maybe’ is a single word that is also called a compound by many. It is an adverb that indicates possibility of an event and the meaning of the word as given in dictionaries is ‘perhaps’. One can easily substitute possibly or perhaps with this adverb. Take a look at this example where a boy is explaining why his girlfriend did not turn up for the event. Maybe her parents did not allow her to go out of the home in the evening. You can easily substitute perhaps in place of maybe and the meaning remains the same as the sentence is suggesting a possibility. Maybe we will one day shift to New York. The sentence talks about a possibility and choice so we may or may not shift to New York.

May be

These are two words used together where may is a verb while be is an auxiliary word. The meaning of these two words used in conjunction is similar to the single word adverb in the sense that may be indicates a possibility bit you can use it when you can substitute could or would in place of may.

If students are waiting for the teacher and a student says that he has got information that the teacher may be absent, he is actually indicating the possibility of the teacher not turning up for the class. If he adds that the class maybe cancelled on account of this, he is making use of the two forms of the same word in the same context.


What is the difference between Maybe and May be?

• Maybe is an adverb while may be is a verb.

• Maybe indicates the possibility of an event taking place (and simultaneously of an event not taking place).

• May be can be substituted with could be or might be while maybe can be substituted with perhaps or possibly.