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Maybe-May be

By Judy Vorfeld

Maybe you’ve won­dered about how to use the word “maybe.” It’s not some­thing that gets a lot of atten­tion from the gram­mar police, but it’s still good to know how to write it properly.

Okay. “Maybe,” the com­pound word, is an adverb mean­ing “per­haps” or “possibly.”

The two words “may be” com­prise a verb phrase mean­ing “might be” or “could be.”


Maybe I will go out tonight.
I may be going out tonight.

If you’re uncer­tain about using the word “maybe” or the phrase “may be,” you might try sub­sti­tut­ing “per­haps”: “Maybe Frankie will take me to the ball game” becomes “Perhaps Frankie will take me to the ball game.”

When the sub­sti­tu­tion makes sense, go with one word: “maybe.” When you are won­der­ing whether you may be wait­ing for the wrong vehi­cle, you’re deal­ing with a verb and its aux­il­iary: “may be.” Two words.

Brians Errors


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