kamoshirenai) is an expression used to express uncertainty. かもしれない means
かもしれない expresses an assumption of the speaker about what could happen.
There is no absolute certainty, and it is also possible that what we have assumed is not true.
In this post we learn how the expression かもしれない works, how it is formed, and when to use it, through examples of real sentences.
Structure of the expression かもしれない
The expression かもしれない is made up of the following terms:
かも: combination of the particles か and も, which together indicate possibility (
The Potential form of the Godan verb 知る
ない: auxiliary verb meaning
to not exist
かもしれない is generally translated as
maybe, but its literal meaning is
even with (A), we cannot know (知る is a verb that means
When using かもしれない
As mentioned earlier, かもしれない is used to indicate uncertainty about a particular situation. かもしれない expresses a probability that generally is around 50% (or less).
Another similar expression is でしょう, which has a higher probability (80-90%) than かもしれない
かもしれない can be used to refer to both one's own actions and the actions of another person.
An example of uncertainty are weather forecasts: もしれない is not used for forecasts, since もしれない would be too uncertain and not very credible
How to use the expression かもしれない
Since かもしれない derives from the Godan verb 知る, it is possible to conjugate this expression like any other Godan verb:
As you can see, the conjugation of かもしれない has no special rule: just add かもしれない.
In more colloquial situations かもしれない can be shortened to just かも, or in its contracted version かもしれん
How to use かもしれない as a guess
かもしれない is also used to express a guess about what happened, what is happening, or what will happen in the future (depending on the tense in which it is conjugated).
Let's see some examples of the use of かもしれない:
It could be that I'm getting married next year.
In this sentence かもしれない expresses a possibility of a future event. Considering the origin of the expression, a more literal translation might be
even though I think I might get married, we can't know.
It might get late tomorrow.
You can also add もしかしたら or ひょっとしたら at the beginning of the sentence to emphasize the uncertainty of the expression
Using かも to be less direct
As stated in other posts, Japanese people tend to not express any ideas or thoughts too directly.
For this reason we can often find the use of かも to reduce the certainty of a sentence and make the expression less direct.
It might be a bit difficult.
Instead of saying
It's hard, which risks sounding too direct and accusatory, in Japanese terms like ちょっと and かも are added to make the same meaning but in a more uncertain way.