Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Word choice is one of the most common grammar mistakes.

It can be tricky for native English speakers and language learners!

For example, when should you use “maybe” and when is “may be” correct?

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey break down the differences between the adverb and the verb phrase.

Listen in for their useful and practical tips.

Maybe versus may be

Aubrey shares that she may be going on a boat trip with her dad the upcoming weekend.

Her dad will tow a giant tube called “Big Mable” on the lake.

It is huge and can fit 5 kids!

Aubrey shares that she said what she ‘may be’ planning in order to introduce today’s topic.

You are going to learn about the difference between “maybe” and “may be.”

The topic for today was inspired by a question sent by a listener.

I recently read “maybe” somewhere and it is without space and I knew previously that “may be” are two words with a space. I looked it up in Google and found that “maybe” is an adverb that has the same meaning as probably and “may be” is a verb phrase. I want to hear from you the difference between these two and how we should use them. Also, how do we pronounce each of them. Thanks in advance.

Minash from India

This is correct!

Aubrey mentions that what Minash found online is correct.

However, this is a great topic as it’s a common mistake to write the wrong one.

These words are used very often.

We need to know how to use them properly.

How to use “maybe” and “may be”

Aubrey and Lindsay dive into the difference between the two.

“Maybe” is an adverb that is synonymous to ‘possibly’ or ‘perhaps.’

It can also be used as a noun.

Here is an example:

Example (Adverb):

  • “Maybe we should get a puppy.”
  • “That’s maybe the worst joke I’ve ever heard.”
  • “Maybe you better swear me in.”

Example (Noun):

  • “No if’s, but’s, or, maybe’s.”
  • “I’m a maybe.”

Tip #1 for ‘may be’

There are a few grammar details to understand about “may be.”

“Be” is a verb and “may” is a modal.

Modals are used to indicate to what degree a verb happens.

It tells us how much.

When you use both “may” and “be together, it means something is uncertain, but there is a chance that it is true.

Example:

  • “They may be asked to help if we’re short-handed.”
  • “We may be out of town next weekend.”

Tip #2 for ‘may be’

There is a second way “may be” is used.

You may often hear someone say “I may be ________, but at least I’m not _______.”

Natives use this expression all the time.

Lindsay says she hears this a lot.

For her, it signifies that you are showing positivity about something.

It is something her dad would say when he cooked for them and he really wasn’t a good cook.

Roleplay

Lindsay and Aubrey will do a roleplay where they are on vacation.

They are discussing the itinerary and sharing what they can squeeze in the last days of their trip.

They will be using “maybe” and “may be” in the roleplay.

This will help you to better understand how to use them appropriately.

Aubrey: Maybe we’ll have time to see a museum tomorrow morning?

Lindsay: We may be able to hit one in the morning if we get there right when it opens.

Aubrey: Our flight leaves at 3 right? Maybe we won’t have time.

Lindsay: It may be cutting it close.

Aubrey: Maybe we should do brunch instead somewhere fun.

Lindsay: Oh yeah! I may be a big breakfast person, but I also love brunch!

Bonus slang

In the roleplay, Lindsay says they might ‘hit’ a museum.

There are many meanings of the word ‘hit’ in English!

In this case, it’s a slang verb used to mean ‘visit.’

By saying they will hit the museum, they mean they’ll try to visit it.

Takeaway

The key takeaway in today’s episode is to not be intimidated by tricky grammar.

Today’s breakdown on the difference between “maybe” and “may be” will help you use them properly.

Keep practicing and using terms and phrases the way native English speakers use them.

It’s vital that you learn to know when to use the proper tone and pauses so you can convey the right message.

Today’s tips are especially important when you are writing.

‘May be’ and ‘maybe’ sound the same, but are written differently.

Be confident to level up your English skills.

Give more examples with “maybe” and “may be!”

Share it in the comments down below.

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