かもしれない is translatable as “maybe”. It expresses less probability than adding the volitional form of the auxiliary verb at the end of the sentence.

While かもしれない can be learnt as a phrase it may help to see how it is formed grammatically, especially since we’ve already covered each of the components. But first of all an example sentence:

かれはこのメールをんだらおこかもしれない
He might get angry if he reads this email.
それが世界新記録せかいしんきろくかもしれない
That might be a world record!

Note that with nouns and adjectives we do not require the auxiliary verb.

かもしれない consists of two particles, か and も, and the potential form of the verb to know, しる. Essentially, the grammar involves making a question out of the clause and saying you know don’t. The inclusive particle も adds the nuance of “also” (i.e. you can’t know if it’s also…).

危険きけんかもしれない。
It might be dangerous.

Literally: I can’t know if it’s also dangerous.

やってみるとたのしいかもしれない
If you give it a try you might enjoy it.
先週せんしゅう授業じゅぎょうでこの単語たんごならったかもしれない
We might have learnt this vocabulary in the lesson last week.

In casual conversation the phrase is often abbreviated to かも.

あのひとっているかも
I think I might know that person over there.

Because the final verb in かもしれない is just the potential form of the verb しる you can change the verb ending to create the polite form.

重要じゅうようなので、明確めいかく説明せつめいしたほうがいいかもしれません
It’s important so you should probably explain clearly.
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