Spanish Statements of Possibility: How to Say 'Maybe' or 'Perhaps'

Statements of Possibility Often Use Subjunctive Mood

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

Uses of Quizás or Talvez to Express Possibility

Quizás or, as it is also spelled, quizá, is typically used with verbs in the subjunctive mood, although it is not 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 typical, although not always, placed at the beginning of sentences. 

Puede que, literally meaning "it can be" when it is the subject of a sentence, is an alternative phrase for expressing possibility. It is normally followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood.

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
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 will be only a memory.
Tal vez no pensaron en esto.Maybe they didn't think about it.
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.

Using Posible

The Spanish adjective posible, meaning "possible," can be used to form the adverb posiblemente, and can be used in much the same way as quizás and tal vez, although it is less common than its English counterpart, "possibly." 

Es posible que, literally meaning "it is possible that," can also be used as an alternative to one of the other ways of expressing possibility, and in standard Spanish, it is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood.

Like the English phrase it stands for, es posible que often expresses a greater degree of doubt than "maybe." For example, Es posible que hoy te vea, translates to, "It is possible I will see you today."

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
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 may be allergic to pollen.

Colloquial Way of Expressing Possibility

A lo mejor is a more colloquial way to express possibility than quizá and tal vez. Although its literal translation is "at what is best," it isn't used that way. Do not use the subjunctive mood with a lo mejor.

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
A lo mejor soy imbécil.Perhaps I am 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.
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish Statements of Possibility: How to Say 'Maybe' or 'Perhaps'." ThoughtCo, Sep. 15, 2017, Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, September 15). Spanish Statements of Possibility: How to Say 'Maybe' or 'Perhaps'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish Statements of Possibility: How to Say 'Maybe' or 'Perhaps'." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2018).