A compound word is two or more words combined to form a new word. There are many compound words in English, like windmill, strawberry, granddaughter, and maybe. Maybe also has a near homophone in the phrase may be. Since, in this case, the words are kept separate, it is no longer a compound word. May be is actually a verb phrase. Is the compound word maybe and the phrase may be ever interchangeable? Continue reading to find out.
In this article, I will discuss the difference between these two: maybe vs. may be. I will give an example of each in a correct sentence. Plus, I will reveal a useful trick to use when you can’t decide whether may be or maybe is appropriate.
Maybe as adverb:
Maybe I won't go back.
Maybe as noun:
No ifs, buts, or maybes.
May be as verb phrase:
May be also indicates possibility, but it is a verb phrase, rather than an adverb. May be consists of the verbs may and be, which are separate words here, and which refer to something that could happen or a state of affairs that might exist.
I may be young, but I am wise beyond my years.
Maybe or may be:
May be is a verb phrase. Maybe is an adverb. While these words contain all of the same letters, they do function as different parts of speech, and they cannot be substituted for each other. Maybe is an adverb that means possibly or perhaps. May be is a verb phrase that indicates something that might happen or a potential state of affairs. Since the verb phrase may be contains two separate verbs, you will always remember not to use it as an adverb. Likewise, maybe is only ever an adverb, and never a verb.