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Peut-être means “maybe” or “perhaps”. If you break it down, it literally means “can-be”.

Peut-être is usually part of a sentence, but it can also be a standalone word, just like “Maybe” or “Perhaps” in English. When it precedes a clause in a sentence, it has to be used with either que or inversion (see example sentences).

Be careful: If peut and être aren’t connected by a hyphen, they may simply indicate the two separate words “can/could/may/might” and “be”, as in the phrase, Ce film peut être intéressant. (This film could be interesting.)


  • Maybe
  • Perhaps


  • probablement

Example sentence

Il a peut-être peur des araignées.

Maybe he’s afraid of spiders.

Alors, tu viendras ce soir ?


“So, you’ll come tonight?”


Peut-être qu’ils ont volé le diamant !

Maybe they stole the diamond!


Peut-être ont-ils volé le diamant !

Maybe they stole the diamond!

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