Maybe vs. May be

This time, we're gonna delve into more grammatically confusing words. If you don't know about them, no need to worry. You're here to learn, remember?

"Maybe" vs. "May be" in the English Grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

Both indicate possibilities. However, 'maybe' is an adverb of probability. 'May be' consists of the modal verb 'may' plus the base form of the verb 'to be'.


As stated above, 'maybe' is an adverb of probability. It indicates the possibility of an event. Look at the examples below:

And maybe, he's been fooling you all with beautiful lies.

A : Will you attend the seminar?

B : Maybe.

'May be', contrariwise, consists of two verbs. It includes the modal verb 'may' plus the base for of the verb 'to be'. It indicates the possibility of action. Check out the examples below:

I said he may be the one we're after.

A : What do you think?

B : Well, the pipe may be broken again.


As I mentioned above, we can use both to refer to possibilities. Look below:

The accused confidently announced that she may be the killer.

We could all maybe stay at home.

Are They Interchangeable?

It is obvious that we cannot use these two terms interchangeably because our sentence will be grammatically incorrect. One functions as an adverb, whereas, the other one consists of two separate verbs. Compare:

Maybe, the manager wanted to rest his mind a bit.

X May be, the manager wanted to rest his mind a bit.

As you can see, this one is grammatically incorrect.


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