The difference between maybe and might be

English grammar and usage issues

Moderator: Susan

The difference between maybe and might be

Unread postby chocalate » 28 May 2007, 14:15

hi every body
can anyone explain to me the usage of maybe and might be?

with my regards
chocalate
chocalate
Registered Member
 
Posts: 7
Joined: 10 Aug 2006, 03:47

Unread postby jasminade » 01 Jun 2007, 14:57

Firstly, "maybe" is an adverb. We use the word to say that something is possible or true, but we are not certain. E.g
"How old is John? ~ I don't really know. In her twenties, certainly. Twenty-five, maybe."

I think you mean "may be" and "might be", both modal auxiliaries that again, express that there is a chance that something is true or may happen. May and might are used to talk about present or future events. They can normally be used interchangeably, although might suggests a smaller chance of something happening. Compare the following:

"I may go Italy this summer. And you might like to come with me!"
jasminade
Gold Member
 
Posts: 80
Joined: 26 Jul 2004, 15:23
Location: Shenyang, China

Unread postby Peter Easton » 06 Jun 2007, 03:00

That’s true, ‘might’ is an auxiliary verb whereas ‘maybe’ is an adverb, therefore ‘might’ and ‘may’ are very similar.

'Might' is not usually used at the beginning of a sentence – a common error with learners of English (my girlfriend is particularly bad with this one).

E.g. ‘Might he is a vegetarian.’ as opposed to ‘Maybe he is a vegetarian.’

Or

Q: ‘Will you go to Italy this summer?’

A: ‘Might I will.’

An alternative that I think is underused in these situations is ‘perhaps’.
Peter Easton
Gold Member
 
Posts: 131
Joined: 02 Mar 2007, 14:06

Unread postby jasminade » 06 Jun 2007, 10:31

I agree. I think the confusion in the use of "might" at the beginning of a sentence, is that it can be used, instead of can / may, when making a request in the first person singular form.

"Might I take this book?"

But for students, until they use English like Shakespeare, they should "When in doubt, leave it out!".

And use, as you point out, words like "perhaps".
jasminade
Gold Member
 
Posts: 80
Joined: 26 Jul 2004, 15:23
Location: Shenyang, China

Unread postby bambang » 09 Jul 2007, 13:58

Look at these sentences.

I might/may be late.
Maybe I am late.

Both sentences basically have the same meaning.

"May be" in the first sentence is written in two words while "maybe" in the second sentence is written in one word.

Do you think so dear Jasminade and Peter?
User avatar
bambang
Silver Member
 
Posts: 15
Joined: 13 May 2007, 05:16
Location: Jakarta Indonesia

Unread postby jasminade » 10 Jul 2007, 10:06

bambang wrote:Look at these sentences.

I might/may be late.
Maybe I am late.

Both sentences basically have the same meaning.

"May be" in the first sentence is written in two words while "maybe" in the second sentence is written in one word.

Do you think so dear Jasminade and Peter?


Aww but the second is a question, is it not?

Maybe, I am late? (interrogative form). I maybe late (positive form).
Last edited by jasminade on 11 Jul 2007, 15:09, edited 1 time in total.
jasminade
Gold Member
 
Posts: 80
Joined: 26 Jul 2004, 15:23
Location: Shenyang, China

Unread postby bambang » 10 Jul 2007, 19:08

Dear Jasminde.

You are the master.

You are from Ireland.

You are a native speaker.

What do you mean with "interrogate form"?

Please elaborate it more.

Thanks in advance.
User avatar
bambang
Silver Member
 
Posts: 15
Joined: 13 May 2007, 05:16
Location: Jakarta Indonesia

Unread postby jasminade » 11 Jul 2007, 15:11

bambang wrote:Dear Jasminde.

You are the master. No
You are from Ireland. Yes
You are a native speaker. Yes

What do you mean with "interrogate form"? Please see my edit above (I type too fast at times, it should have read "interrogative", that is, "question form").

Please elaborate it more.

Thanks in advance.


Apologies, for any confusion.
jasminade
Gold Member
 
Posts: 80
Joined: 26 Jul 2004, 15:23
Location: Shenyang, China

Unread postby Peter Easton » 12 Jul 2007, 02:14

Surely the difference here is that ‘I might be’ indicates the conditional mood, i.e. I am possibly going to do something in the future, whereas ‘maybe I am’ indicates what is happening now in the present.
Peter Easton
Gold Member
 
Posts: 131
Joined: 02 Mar 2007, 14:06

Unread postby bambang » 12 Jul 2007, 05:10

Dear Jasminade and Peter.

Thank you very much for the explaination.

How about these?

I might/may be late.
Maybe I'll be late.


Do both sentences basically have the same meaning?

Thanks in advance.
User avatar
bambang
Silver Member
 
Posts: 15
Joined: 13 May 2007, 05:16
Location: Jakarta Indonesia

Unread postby Peter Easton » 12 Jul 2007, 05:56

'Maybe I'll be late' sounds less correct but for argument's sake let's say they both have the same meaning. However,'I might be late' sounds more definite.
Peter Easton
Gold Member
 
Posts: 131
Joined: 02 Mar 2007, 14:06

Re: The difference between maybe and might be

Unread postby jonnielsen » 12 Feb 2010, 17:35

There is no difference between may and might worth agonizing about. may sounds a bit more formal to my ear. And may cannot be used where a past tense is required in tense matching: "I knew I might be late. Not I knew I may be late." In other situations, both are used the same way.

Use google search and you will find an amazing number of ideas about this.
"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. "
Editor @ Daily Reviews
User avatar
jonnielsen
Silver Member
 
Posts: 15
Joined: 04 Feb 2010, 15:35
Location: Malibu, CA
Status: New Teacher

Re:

Unread postby systematic » 17 Feb 2010, 02:47

Peter Easton wrote:'Maybe I'll be late' sounds less correct ...

Maybe because more natural language might tend towards:
I may be late. or I might be late.

Both which convey the same meaning especially if evoking an unuttered if clause.
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
____________________
Thailand TESOL forum
systematic
Teacher
 
Posts: 528
Joined: 21 Apr 2008, 13:38
Location: UK, France, & Thailand
Status: Other


Return to Grammar and Usage

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 12 guests