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PERHAPS and MAYBE - is there a difference?

English translation: perhaps is just a tiny bit more formal

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08:38 Aug 6, 2004
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Linguistics / Synonyms
English term or phrase: PERHAPS and MAYBE - is there a difference?
"Perhaps" is a synonym of "maybe" (or the other way round). What's the difference between them? TIA
Christian
Local time: 05:12
English translation:perhaps is just a tiny bit more formal
Explanation:
Take a look at a nice discussion on this tittilating issue :-]

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.
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/8/messages/1114.htm...
Selected response from:

Mikhail Kropotov
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:12
Grading comment
Thank you very much.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +10perhaps is just a tiny bit more formal
Mikhail Kropotov
5Fowler says:xxxBourth
4 +1perhaps and maybe
sassa
5see
Maria Luisa Duarte
4No differencexxxIanW


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


1 min   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
perhaps and maybe - is there a difference?
No difference


Explanation:
As far as I am aware, there is no difference in meaning

xxxIanW
Local time: 05:12
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 20
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8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +10
perhaps and maybe - is there a difference?
perhaps is just a tiny bit more formal


Explanation:
Take a look at a nice discussion on this tittilating issue :-]

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.
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/8/messages/1114.htm...

Mikhail Kropotov
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:12
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in category: 32
Grading comment
Thank you very much.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Arcoiris: just what I was thinking
3 mins
  -> thanks!

agree  *eva*: nice explanation :)
9 mins
  -> thank you!

agree  Armorel Young: you wouldn't often find maybe in a written document
11 mins
  -> Perhaps one would not. But maybe I could, ya know. :=]]]

agree  sassa
14 mins
  -> thanx!

agree  Vicky Papaprodromou
27 mins
  -> thanx!

agree  IrinaGM
28 mins
  -> thanx!

agree  Saleh Chowdhury, Ph.D.
30 mins
  -> thanx!

agree  Marijke Singer
1 hr
  -> thanx!

agree  Nanny Wintjens
8 hrs

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
7 days
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11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
perhaps and maybe - is there a difference?
see


Explanation:
perhaps
adverb
Possibly but not certainly:
maybe, mayhap, perchance.

[From Middle English perhap : per, by (from Latin; see per) + hap, chance ; see hap.]


Perhaps; possibly.
n. Informal

maybe
An uncertainty: There are so many maybes involved in playing the stock market.

An uncertain reply: It's better to receive a fast and honest no than a drawn-out maybe.

maybe
adverb
Possibly but not certainly:
mayhap, perchance, perhaps.



Maria Luisa Duarte
Spain
Local time: 05:12
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
perhaps and maybe - is there a difference?
perhaps and maybe


Explanation:
Hello Christian,

Your question reminds me of a friend of mine from the US, who never stops pulling my leg whenever he hears me say "Perhaps" (with a British accent). He says that it sounds quite "formal" and "snobbish".

Here are some references:

maybe / perhaps

In British English both of these adverbs are still very commonly used and have the same meaning. You use them to say that something is possible or may be true, but you are not certain.

They can be used interchangeably but of the two, maybe is very appropriate for more informal contexts and perhaps is used in more formal situations. Compare the following:
[...]
Note that perhaps is pronounced 'praps'. Note also from the above illustrations that perhaps and maybe can be used to refer to past, present or future events.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/le...


Posted by R. Berg on May 16, 2001 at 16:27:23:
In Reply to: Re: Not exactly my turf, but... posted by bob on May 16, 2001 at 01:31:20:

: : ... doesn't "perhaps" give you more a sense of accidentality, fatalism, while "maybe" of actual, concrete possibility?
: : Casual, vs. causal -- if you really want to stretch the envelope?

: Well, no, I don't buy it. It's not so much a difference of meanig as a difference that characterizes the speaker: "perhaps" uttered by a careful, older, more pedantic, almost-stuffy speaker (um, that would be me) versus "maybe" uttered by normal people. The degree of possibility is still about 70-30.

"Perhaps" might have an air of accident, etc., because of its origin: etymologically, "by chance" (hap = fortune, chance). Today, however, "maybe" and "perhaps" are related in the same way as "very" and "extremely."


    Reference: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/8/messages/1107.htm...
sassa
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in GreekGreek, Native in SpanishSpanish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Mikhail Kropotov: yes, you found the same discussion as I
2 mins
  -> it's true! you're right :) quite an intertesting discussion, don't you think? thank you! :)
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58 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
perhaps and maybe - is there a difference?
Fowler says:


Explanation:
<<'maybe' (= perhaps) was long ago normal English, as natural as 'perhaps', if not more. In American it has remained the ordinary word. But in Britain it became a novelistic property, the recognized rustic or provincial substitute for 'perhaps'. Having acquired, during this rustication, a certain unfamiliarity, it emerged stylishly archaic, so that 'perhaps' and 'maybe' were for a time a pair of WORKING AND STYLISH WORDS, the only suitable function of 'maybe' being to replace 'perhaps' in a context whose tone demanded a touch of primitive dignity; so "Our Lord speaking quite simply to simple Syrian people, a child or two maybe on his knees". Now, under American influence, we are bringing it back into use as a natural alternative to 'perhaps'. But maybe we are not yet quite at home with it; for why else should we feel the need of the colloquial 'could-be'?>>
[Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2nd ed. , 1965]

Perchance Fowler is right. Perhappenstance, however, usage has changed in the last 40 to 80 years, and could be that this is entirely outdated. Peradventure not. Perhaphazard one of "maybe" and "perhaps" will yet all but disappear, like their cousins.

xxxBourth
Local time: 05:12
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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