may be or may be
Maybe (as an adverb)

When used as an adverb (a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group) ‘maybe’ is written as one word. Use it when you want to say perhaps something will happen.

Maybe I won’t go to the cinema today because it is raining.

Maybe he should see a doctor.

Maybe (as a noun)

When used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality, or action that probably will happen, then maybe becomes a noun and is written as one word.

There are so many maybes involved in playing the stock market.

May be (as a modal verb)

It is rarer to use may be as two separate words. In this case it is a modal verb which means that expresses necessity or possibility. English modal verbs include must, shall, will, should, would, can, could, may, and might.

The word is also used in this sense when you want to refer to something that could happen or that might exist (but nothing is certain yet).

May be Prince William will become king before Prince Charles.

Quick tip to get it right:

Use maybe in all cases. The one exception is that if you can substitute maybe for could be or might be in the sentence, then it should be written as two separate words.

World’s most intelligent? UK girl achieves highest possible IQ score, may be brainier than Einstein, Hawking (The Indian Express)

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Who is Emma?

Emma Parfitt Editing Proofreading

Emma is a proofreader with 18 years of writing experience with businesses, academics and creative writers. She obtained a Creative Writing MA (St Andrews University) and a PhD in Storytelling (Warwick University). Then set up her own proofreading business and became a published author of fiction as well as academic literature such as Young People, Learning & Storytelling (Palgrave Macmillan).

Emma Parfitt

Proofreader for business and academic documents, translations, and English writing.


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