Podcast: Maybe, perhaps, may or might?

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A very common doubt among English students is knowing the difference between “maybe” and “perhaps”. And also the difference between “may” and “might”.

In today’s Podcast, however, we’ll talk about the opposite, or in other words, we’ll talk about things these words have in common.

In fact, there are similarities between “maybe”, “perhaps”, “may” and “might”. And, depending on the context, they can all have the same equivalence in Portuguese: “talvez”, “é possível que…”, “pode ser que…”, “quem sabe…”. Therefore, in English, it’s fair to say that, according to the context, maybe, perhaps, may and might can all have the same meaning too, only “may” occurs more often in written English and “might” occurs more often in spoken English, when they’re used with that similar meaning, that is.

Well, let’s take a look at some examples, then. It’ll make it easier to understand exactly what we’re talking about here.

So, first I’ll say a sentence in Portuguese. Then, I’ll say the equivalent sentences in English, using “maybe”, “perhaps”, “might”, and “may”:

Talvez chova hoje. Maybe it’ll rain today. = Perhaps it’ll rain today. = It might rain today. = It may rain today.

Talvez ele tenha esquecido. Maybe he’s forgotten. = Perhaps he’s forgotten. = He might have forgotten. = He may have forgotten.

Talvez ele viaje para o exterior. Maybe he’ll travel abroad. = Perhaps he’ll travel abroad. = He might travel abroad.= He may travel abroad.

Talvez eu vá para a Inglaterra. Maybe I’ll go to England. = Perhaps I’ll go to England. = I might go to England. = I may go to England.

Talvez eu não consiga vir. Maybe I won’t be able to come. = Perhaps I won’t be able to come. = I might not be able to come. = I may not be able to come.

It’s also worth mentioning that although “maybe” and “perhaps” indeed have the same meaning and both are frequently used in English “perhaps” is usually used in formal situations whereas “maybe” is used in all sorts of situations, formal or informal.

It’s also very common to use “maybe” or “perhaps” in short answers. Like this:

– Will you be there tomorrow? – Maybe. / Perhaps.

– Are you going to the party? – Maybe I will./ Perhaps I will.

– She’ll be late again. – Maybe not. / Perhaps not.

– He was right. – Maybe not. / Perhaps not.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Bye for now.


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