Might vs. Maybe

'Might' and 'maybe' are both used to talk about possibilities which is why learners confuse them but they have different functions. Learn more in this lesson!

"Might" vs. "Maybe" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'might' and 'maybe' is that 'might' is a modal verb, while 'maybe' is an adverb.

'Might' is a modal verb that is used to give additional information about the main verb. 'Might' is considered as the past tense of 'may.' It is used to talk about possibilities, suggestions, introductions, etc.

I might try to rekindle my friendship with her.

She might refuse the offer.

Adverb Maybe

Adverbs are used to modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs. They are used to add more detail about place, time, circumstances, manner, causes, etc. 'Maybe' is an adverb of probability and it is used at the beginning of the sentence to show that there is a chance that an action or event occurs or not. Have a look:

Maybe you are being too sensitive.

Maybe she is not coming.

Similarities

Talking about Possibilities

We use the adverb 'maybe' and the modal verb 'might' is used to talk about actions or events that have a chance of occurrence. Take a look at the following examples for clarity:

Maybe I can help him out.

I might be able to help him out.

Making Suggestion

'Might' and 'maybe' are used to make polite offers and suggestions. Have a look:

Might I give you a hand?

Maybe I could help.

Differences

Negation

We can make 'might' negative by adding 'not' after it and as a result, we will have a negative sentence but we cannot add 'not' or any other negative maker to 'maybe' to make the sentence negative. In order to make the sentences with 'maybe' in them negative, we need to search for the head of the sentence and do what is required to make the head of the sentence negative. Take a look:

I might leave early today. → I might not leave early today.

Maybe she leaves early. → Maybe she didn't leave early.

Position in a Sentence

As a modal verb, 'might' always comes before the main verb and never changes its position. 'Maybe,' however, is always used at the beginning of the sentence.

I might meet him tonight.

Maybe I was right.

Limitations

Modals must be used with a main verb and cannot be used alone in a sentence unless it is a short answer like "I can." For instance:

I might ask her out.

Modals cannot be used with another modal in the same clause.

They might can lift the box.

They might lift the box.

They might lift the box and they can lift the box.

Adverb 'Maybe'

You can use as many adverbs as you like in a clause. However, using too many adverbs may make the sentences chunky and hard to understand. Take a look at the following example:

Maybe he smokes often.

Maybe she was running too quickly.

Tip!

'Might' and 'Maybe' cannot be used in one sentence. Have a look:

Maybe I might leave in the morning.

I might leave in the morning.

Maybe I leave in the morning.

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