How To Say Maybe In French (8 Ways To Say It)

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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How To Say Maybe In French (8 Ways To Say It)

Here you’ll find a list of different phrases that you can use to say “maybe” in French.

If you’re not sure how to use them, just take a look at some of the usage examples I’ve provided.

NOTE: Several of these are just slight variations.

How to say maybe in French

Here’s a list of useful terms and expressions for saying maybe in French (in no particular order).

Scroll down for more details.

French ExpressionEnglish Meaning (approx.)
peut êtremaybe
probablementprobably
par hasardby chance / hazard
peut être queit may be the case that
c’est possibleit's possible
c’est possible queit's possible that
selon toute probabilitéin all probability
selon toute vraisemblancein all likelihood

1. Peut être

Used frequently by French speakers, peut être translates to English as “maybe” and “perhaps”.

Peut être combines the verb peut which means “can” or “it’s possible that”, and être, the French verb for the word “to be”.

You can use peut être when you’re not sure about the outcome of an event or to express that you think something might not happen. It also means “possibly” in French or “maybe” in French.

Here are a few usage examples to help you see how you can use peut être.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Peut-être devrions-nous faire plus de recherches avant de commencer le projet.

Perhaps we should do more research before starting the project.
Listen to audio

Peut-être que le Mont Blanc est un poème qui parle de la nature et de la condition humaine.

Perhaps Mont Blanc is a poem that speaks about nature and the human condition.

2. Probablement

Since this word contains most of the letters in the word “probably”, if you’re an English speaker you may know what it means.

It’s a cognate that means “maybe” in French, but a more accurate translation is “probably”.

Probablement can also mean “likely” or “it’s probable”. So, again, use probablement when you want to suggest that you doubt something will happen but that it could occur.

Take a look at the usage examples to see how to use probablement:

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

La génétique est probablement la cause la plus probable de la maladie.

Genetics are probably the most likely cause of the illness.
Listen to audio

Je vais probablement travailler comme enseignant pendant que je trouve ma vraie passion.

I'll probably work as a teacher while I find my true passion.

3. Par hasard

Most of the words on my list relate to the chances of something happening, and par hasard is no different.

This French phrase means “by chance” or “on the off chance”.

It combines the French word par which means “by” and hasard which means “coincidence”. So, you could also translate this phrase to mean “by coincidence” as well.

Use par hasard if you want to suggest that something may happen if there is luck involved and to indicate that there’s a possibility it will occur.

Still unsure how to use par hasard? Here are the usage examples to help you.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

J’ai rencontré un jardinier par hasard. Peut-être qu’il m’apprendra à planter des panais.

I met a gardener by coincidence. Maybe he'll teach me how to plant parsnips.
Listen to audio

Je suis tombé dessus par hasard. C’était très embarrassant. J’espère que personne ne m’a vu.

I fell over by chance. It was very embarrassing. Hopefully no one saw me.

4. Peut être que

This French phrase contains the phrase that features first on this list.

The only difference is that extra word que, so you might be able to tell that it means “maybe” in French.

What is the difference between peut être and peut être que?

The word que indicates that you haven’t finished your sentence and the phrase peut être que means “it might be the case that…”

In other words, you can use peut être on its own to say “maybe” in French (imagine with a small shrug of the shoulders), but you cannot use peut être que on its own.

Let’s look at a couple of usage examples to see how to use it.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Le problème peut être que vous êtes trop compétitif et que vous vous sentez stressé.

The problem may be that you are too competitive and feel stressed.
Listen to audio

Le problème de Joaquin est peut-être qu’il travaille trop dur et ne se détend jamais.

Joaquin's problem may be that he works too hard and never relaxes.

5. C’est possible

You may have noticed that this phrase contains the English cognate “possible”. So, can you guess what the phrase means?

C’est possible combines the words c’est, which means “it is”, and possible, which means “possible” in English. Altogether, the phrase means “it’s possible” in English.

Just like many of the phrases on this list, you can use c’est possible to show that something could happen. However, you could also use it to slightly agree with someone - like when you say “possibly” in English

To clarify when to use c’est possible, here are my usage examples that feature this phrase.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Tu crois qu’elle est en colère parce que tu ne lui as pas dit que tu étais viré ?

Do you think she feels angry that you didn't tell her you were fired?
Listen to audio

C’est possible. Je pourrais avoir à expliquer pourquoi ils m’ont viré.

It's possible. I might have to explain why they fired me.
Listen to audio

Pensez-vous que vous réussirez votre examen de français cet été ? Avez-vous suffisamment étudié ?

Do you think you will pass your French exam this summer? Have you studied enough?
Listen to audio

C’est possible. J’espère avoir suffisamment étudié, mais je ne sais pas.

It's possible. I hope I have studied enough French, but I don't know.

6. C’est possible que

You may have also noticed that this phrase contains the fifth phrase on the list, which was c’est possible. Just like peut être que this phrase contains the word que, which is the only difference between c’est possible and c’est possible que.

Can you tell how c’est possible and c’est possible que are different?

Whereas you can use c’est possible as a standalone phrase - just like the phrase peut être - you have to use the phrase c’est possible que in a full sentence.

C’est possible que means “it’s possible that…”, indicating that you’re going to talk about something that could happen or might be possible after you have used this phrase.

C’est possible que is used to make conjectures or hypotheses about something or someone.

Here are my usage examples to help you understand how to use c’est possible que.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

C’est possible qu’il pleuve. Ils ont dit que ce serait nuageux plus tard.

It's possible that it may rain. They said it would be cloudy later.
Listen to audio

C’est possible que je me sois trompé en disant que la tâche serait facile. C’est difficile.

It's possible that I was wrong when I said the task would be easy. It's challenging.

7. Selon toute probabilité

Number seven on the list is selon toute probabilité.

You can use this three-word phrase when you want to say “maybe” in French or “possibly” in French.

When we break down the phrase into its individual parts, we get selon (“according to”), toute (“all”), and probabilité (“probability”).

This phrase suggests that something is probable.

It’s slightly stronger than c’est possible que, and you can use it to assess the extent to which an event is likely to happen with a suggestion that it will occur.

Now, let’s go to our usage examples to see how you can use selon toute probabilité.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Selon toute probabilité, il sera retardé car la grève des transports publics.

In all probability, he will be delayed because of the public transport strike.
Listen to audio

Selon toute probabilité, elle réussira l’examen de français car elle a étudié tout l’été.

In all probability, she will pass the French exam because she has studied all summer.

8. Selon toute vraisemblance

This final phrase, selon toute vraisemblance, is very similar to number seven on our list.

Again, we have a three-word phrase. The only difference is the word vraisemblance, which means “likelihood” in English.

Can you tell what selon toute vraisemblance means in English?

Yes, it means “in all likelihood”.

You can use selon toute vraisemblance in similar scenarios as you would use selon toute probabilité.

It’s a bit stronger than saying “maybe” in French.

Listen to audio

Si vous voulez dire ‘peut-être’ en français, selon toute vraisemblance, vous pouvez trouver des idées dans cette liste.

If you want to say 'maybe' in French, in all likelihood you can get some ideas from this list.
Listen to audio

Selon toute vraisemblance, je terminerai cette tâche à sept heures ce soir.

In all likelihood, I will finish this task by seven o'clock tonight.

There are many terms and variations for saying maybe in French

The more you use these new expressions to say “maybe” in French, the wider your vocabulary will be.

You’ll notice that conversations will flow more easily and you’ll be able to express yourself more clearly in situations when you’re not sure of the outcome.

Keep practising using the phrases I’ve listed here and you’ll soon know how to express probability/possibility without any difficulty.


Which other words or phrases for “maybe” in French would you like to add to this list?

Add them to the comments section just below.

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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