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Which One Do I Use: Maybe or May Be?

maybe or may be

For ages, so many have used these incorrectly (probably because they are homonyms), but you can get it perfect every time. Don’t believe me? Here’s how. The key is knowing their functions. Maybe is an adverb, and may be is a verb phrase. As long as you remember this key difference, you can be confident every time you use them!. 

So, which one? Maybe or May Be?

Examples as a Noun

Oddly enough, maybe can also be used as a noun. Chances are you probably have used it in this manner and just not paid any attention to it. Here are a few examples of how it can be used in this way: 

  • There are no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes about it.
  • So, that’s a maybe, right?
  • I will jot your name down as a maybe for the seminar. 

The opposite of the above would be incorrect

  • There are no ifs, ands, buts, or may bes about it.
  • So, that’s a may be, right?
  • I will jot your name down as a may be for the seminar. 

Examples as an Adverb

Here are some examples of the correct usage:

  • Maybe you could publish your book later this year.
  • If you need a book cover, maybe you can ask Adrienne to help you. I was wondering if you were coming to the dance, maybe.

Here are some examples of the incorrect usage:

  • If you talk to Juan, may be he will do your taxes. 
  • May be you can find what you are looking for on Amazon.

Examples as a verb phrase

As long as you place your verb phrase next to the subject, I promise you will be okay! Let’s take a look at the correct waya verb phrase should be used:

  • They may be stuck in traffic since they aren’t here yet.
  • She may be going out of the country next week, but I’m unsure.
  • There may be a limit on how many people can join due to COVID restrictions.
  • Don may be upstairs reading his book.

The following examples are incorrect

  • There maybe a limit on how many people can join due to COVID restrictions.
  • Don maybe upstairs reading his book.

I’m Stuck! Maybe or May Be?

If you ever find yourself confused about which way is correct, here are some words you can use in place of maybe and may be that should still make sense when you read them aloud: 

  • Instead of may be, replace with might be or could be. If you can, then you are using the verb.
  • Instead of maybe, replace with perhaps or possibly.

Here are a couple examples of what I mean: 

  • They could be stuck in traffic since they aren’t here yet.
  • She might be going out of the country next week, but I’m unsure.

Take Your Time

Once you have everything written down, make sure that you go through your work carefully so that you don’t mistakenly confuse homonyms like maybe and may be

If this has been a consistent struggle for you, I hope that this helps! If you still feel like you need that extra review, though, you can reach out to me at www.iamediting.com by filling out the Let’s Connect Form! 

See you next week!