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Saying 'Maybe' or 'Perhaps'

Expressions of Possibility

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Quizás más tarde. (Perhaps later.)

Photo by Juanadc.com; Creative Commons license.

Spanish has several ways of saying "maybe" or "perhaps." As noted below, most of the expressions of possibility are frequently used with a verb in the subjunctive mood.

Quizás or, as it is also spelled, quizá is typically used with verbs in the subjunctive mood, although it isn't unusual to hear it used with a verb in the indicative mood. Quizá(s) can be used interchangeably with talvez, also spelled tal vez. These words are typically, although not necessarily, placed at the beginnings of sentences.

  • Quizás te cases, o quizás no. Perhaps you will get married, or perhaps not.
  • Quizá en otra vida tú y yo fuimos amantes. Perhaps in another life you and I were lovers.
  • Quizás más tarde. Perhaps later.
  • Quizá no venga nadie. Maybe nobody will come.
  • Talvez yo te pueda ayudar. Perhaps I can help you.
  • Tal vez mañana sea solo un recuerdo. Perhaps tomorrow it will be only a memory.
  • Tal vez no pensaron en esto. Maybe they didn't think about it.

A lo mejor is a bit more colloquial than quizá and tal vez. It does not mean "at the best" as you might suspect, but can usually be translated as "maybe." You should not use the subjunctive with a lo mejor.

  • A lo mejor soy imbécil. Perhaps I'm stupid.
  • Hay tres cosas que a lo mejor no sabes de mí. There are three things that perhaps you don't know about me.
  • A lo mejor nos están haciendo un favor. Maybe they are doing us a favor.

Posiblemente can be used in much the same way as quizá and tal vez, although it is less common than its English counterpart, "possibly."

  • Posiblemente Cuba no participará en campeonato. Maybe Cuba won't participate in the championship.
  • Posiblemente sea mi imaginación. It could be my imagination.
  • Si presenta síntomas en primavera, posiblemente sea alérgico al polen. If symptoms appear in the spring, you maybe are allergic to pollen.

Puede que, literally meaning "it can be" when it is the subject of a sentence, is an alternative to using the adverbs above. It is normally followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood.

  • Puede que debas cambiar por otro medicamento. Perhaps you ought to switch to another medication.
  • Su plan dental puede que no cubra el costo total de su cuenta. Your dental plan maybe won't cover the total cost of your account.
  • Puede que estemos equivocados. Perhaps we are mistaken.

Es posible que, literally meaning "it is possible that," can also be used as an alternative to one of the other words. In standard Spanish, it is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood. Like the English phrase, it often expresses a greater degree of doubt than "maybe." Es posible que hoy te vea. It is possible I will see you today.

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