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Le Blog: Lingual Links

'Peut-être' n'est pas, peut-être, si évident...

By angelaluke, Jan 11 2019 05:17PM

‘Perhaps’, in French, is maybe not as straightforward as it first seems (but at least French only has one word: ‘peut-être’ for our ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’!)

There are three ways that ‘peut-être’ can be used if you want to be wholly accurate in French. The first way is to position the word in the middle of a sentence surrounded by commas. E.g. nous allons, peut-être, arriver en retard.

However, we often want to start a sentence with ‘peut-être’ and therefore there are two rules to choose from.

Firstly, you can follow ‘peut-être’ with ‘que’ and then the rest of the sentence. E.g. Peut-être que nous allons arriver en retard. Or you can invert the subject and verb directly after ‘peut-être’. E.g. Peut-être allons-nous arriver en retard. Just bear in mind that if the subject of the sentence is a name, you need to add the relevant pronoun too when you invert. E.g. Peut-être Paul et moi, allons-nous arriver en retard. And if you need the pronouns ‘il’, ‘elle’, ‘ils’, ‘elles’ or ‘on’, you need to add an extra ‘t’ to aid pronunciation. E.g. Peut-être Jean va-t-il arriver en retard.

So, if you just want to take just one thing from this blog entry, make it this: if you start a sentence with ‘peut-être’ in French, bolt the ‘que’ onto it and then continue with your sentence. French speakers will love your mastery of the language, peut-être!

If you have enjoyed this entry, peut-être que vous voulez me laisser un petit commentaire. Ou peut-être avez-vous une question. Dans ce cas, n’hésitez pas d’appuyer sur le panic button !

Jan 13 2019 11:36AM by Etienne

Angela is a pure genius when it comes to organizing and getting things together. The lessons are interesting, amusing very diverse and gets you confident and practicing general every day conversation in no time. The lessons are always very enjoyable and you meet other very interesting people. Highly recommended !

Jan 20 2019 12:42PM by Liz

I had no idea you needed a 'que' after peur-etre at the beginning of a sentence.
Merci beaucoup, Angela.

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