Difference Between: Maybe, Likely, Possibly & Probably

by Thanh Tu
(Hanoi, Vietnam)

Maybe: Image Source

Can you tell me the difference between: likely, possibly, probably and maybe? I'm unsure when to use each word in a sentence that is grammatically correct and I am also unsure of the difference in meaning.

I hope you can give me the answer. I am looking to hearing from you soon. Thank you very much.

Comments for Difference Between: Maybe, Likely, Possibly & Probably

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Nov 07, 2010
by: Thanhtu

Thank you so much! Now I clearly understand the difference between: possible, maybe, probably and likely.

Nov 07, 2010
by: Ola Zur

You could use "maybe" instead of "possibly," and "possibly" instead of "maybe." This will require no change in the structure of the sentence.

For example:
"I will do it maybe once or twice."
"I will do it possibly once or twice."

These two sentences have the same meaning.

"Likely" and "Probably" have similar meanings, but they are used differently, as I explained in the first answer.

Ola Zur is the editor of www.really-learn-english.com, an illustrated guide to English.

Nov 06, 2010
Problem about probably, likely, maybe, possible
by: Anonymous

Maybe can be used instead posible, right? And what about other word: probably and likely can instead, too?

Please help me what word can be used to instead of other? What is right? And what is wrong?

Thank you for your help!

Nov 05, 2010
I still have a problem!
by: Anonymous

This means I can use possible instead maybe, right?

Please tell me more about what word can be used instead of other?

Thank you so much.

Nov 05, 2010
Well, it goes like this:
by: Ola Zur

Hi Thanh Tu,
Well, it goes like this:

Maybe: you use this word when you are not sure. It could be a "yes" or it could be a "no," and you are not certain.
For example:
- "Are you going to Janet's party tonight?"
- "Maybe, I haven't decided yet."

Possibly: It's like saying "maybe."
For example: "Renovation will take two weeks, possibly longer."

Likely: something that is likely sounds logical and has very good chances of being true.
For example: "Spain has 117 points, and Italy has 42 points. It is likely that Spain will win."

Probably: this one is pretty much like "likely." They basically have the same meaning, but a different usage.

"Likely" is an adjective, and "probably" is an adverb.
You would say: "It is likely that Spain will win" and "Spain will probably win."
Do you see the difference in usage?

I hope this clears things up for you. For more data on how to correctly express possibility and probability in English you can visit the English Modal Verbs section in my site.

Ola Zur is the editor of www.really-learn-english.com, an illustrated guide to English.

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