Difference Between May Be and Shall Be (With Table)

Both may be and shall be are modal verbs that can be employed in a variety of situations. Both terms refer to an activity or habit that will take place in the future. Both modal auxiliary verbs denote the likelihood of possible or likely action. As a result, many people may mistake them for one another. There are, nevertheless, some significant differences between them.

May Be vs Shall Be

The difference between maybe and shall be is that “shall” is typically used to denote a singular or plural subject’s future behavior. On the other hand, “may” is a modal verb that is employed in the present tense. Shall be can be used in the first, second, and the third person, whereas maybe is used in the first, second, and third person. When the subject is singular in structure, it is frequently used in the second person.

May be used to express a grant or permission of consent, an implied potential, the ability to undertake an undertaking, or a duty to execute. In legal papers, the last occasion frequently serves as a substitute for the words “must” and “must. Might be in the past tense of maybe.

When the word shall be is employed in the second or third person, it suggests a promise, mandate, or coercion. It also denotes the firmness and certainty of action. In the second and third person, shall be is also used in solitary and multiple subjects. It implies a firm determination, which frequently manifests as a requirement or necessity.

Comparison Table Between May Be and Shall Be

Parameters of ComparisonMay BeShall Be
UsagePermission, demonstrating capability, and obligation are all words that can be used with may (in legal situations).Shall be is a phrase that can be used to express proposals, recommendations, and demands.
SubjectMay be has a singular subject.The subject of shall be can be singular or plural.
PersonMay be is frequently used in the second person.Shall be can be used in the first, second, and third person.
Past Tense The past tense of may be is might be.Its past tense is should be.
IntentMay be is less intent and less forceful.It is more intent and more forceful.

What is May Be?

This is a verb phrase in English that implies “could be” or “could be.

 Furthermore, “be” can be used as a primary verb or as part of continuous verb tense.

It also denotes the possibility of something. However, it is a verb phrase, not an adverb. May be is made up of the two very well-known verbs may and be. These are two different terms in this context and relate to something that could occur or a condition of circumstances that could exist. 

It is commonly used in the second person and when the topic is singular. When used in a legal agreement, it may have the connotation of obligation. May be implies the possibility of something.

The word “may be” is used in the present tense. Maybe expresses a potential that is not explicitly stated.

Here it is with “be” as the main verb:

There may be another chance to try for that job offer.

As in the following example, “may be” can also be used to offer a courteous proposal. The verb “be” serves as the main verb in this sentence:

It may be a good idea to start your start-up.

Here’s an instance of a present continuous (or be + -ing) verb tense with “be”:

We may be going to the movies later today.

What is Shall Be?

Shall be is frequently used to imply a singular or multiple subject’s future activities. In the first, second, and third persons, the modal verb can be utilized. Should be is the past tense of shall be. 

The word shall is used in the first person to denote the future tense. This holds for singular and multiple subjects alike. It suggests a vow, order, or coercion when used in the second or third person. It also denotes the initiative’s firmness and finality. Shall be is also used in the second and third person in both singular and plural subjects.

It can also be found in official documents such as legal documents. Furthermore, the phrase shall be regarded as having a more intense or strong tone. The phrase “shall be” denotes the fulfillment of potential.

Shall be is frequently intermingled with will be. However, ‘will be’ should be used for positive and negative phrases concerning the future as a basic rule. You can also use ‘will’ to make requests. On the other hand, ‘shall be’ must be used in the form of a question if you want to make an offer or a proposal with I/we. Use ‘shall’ for particularly formal phrases, especially when describing obligations.

Main Differences Between May Be and Shall Be

  1. Both must and may be used in different situations. Offers, ideas, and requests are sent using the former. Meanwhile, the latter is utilized for getting consent, demonstrating capability, and expressing responsibility (in legal situations).
  2. May be has a singular subject while the subject of shall be can be singular or plural.
  3. May be is frequently used in the second person whereas, Shall be can be used in the first, second, and third person.
  4. Both may be and shall behave their separate past forms. The past tense of the maybe is might be and that of shall be is should be.
  5. May be is less intent and less forceful. On the other hand, shall be is more intent and more forceful.


Therefore, we can see that both may be and shall be are different words with different meanings and usage. Both shall be and maybe are modal verbs that are employed in a variety of situations. The fundamental distinction between shall be and maybe in English grammar is how they are used.

In official situations and paperwork, both shall be and maybe are employed.

The use of both phrases in the scope of potential is a common factor. The word shall be denotes a manifestation of possibilities, whereas the term may be implies an implicit potential.

Both must be and may behave identical counterparts or phrases that are frequently misinterpreted. Shall be is commonly used in conjunction with will be. On the other hand, maybe is frequently misinterpreted with can be.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GsUDAAAAQAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=May+be+and+Shall+be+english+grammar&ots=XR4ZCz2wHA&sig=RlgTNdJrvQL6sIBfmIzOwFWbea0
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ujsJAAAAQAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA8&dq=May+be+and+Shall+be+english+grammar&ots=n84uzanhqh&sig=AgfLbfjkWZ6bkSInkxKahaZoyY4
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