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Perhaps and maybe

Posted by R. Berg on May 12, 2001

In Reply to: Perhaps and maybe. posted by Bob on May 12, 2001

: : When to use perhaps and maybe, could they be interhchaged?

: They're almost interchangeable. (There are scholars who insist English has no exact synonyms. None.) A child would be more likely to use Maybe, less likely to use Perhaps, perhaps because the root words May Be seem so accessible, intuitive, and immediate. Maybe is a "simpler" word. Perhaps.

To put the same point differently: "Perhaps" is more formal and "maybe" is more casual--but the difference in tone is smaller than the difference between, say, "deceased" and "pushing up daisies." "Perhaps" is common in academic writing. "Maybe" is common in conversation.