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A lo Mejor, Quizá, Tal Vez

The Spanish expression a lo mejor is used to express possibility, just like quizá(s) and tal vez (perhaps, maybe) but in a more colloquial way. A lo mejor does not mean "at the best" as you might think, but it's translated as "maybe" or "perhaps," and its use is very, very common; you will hear it in every Spanish-speaking country you visit. For example, Sandra from Spain uses it in one of our new videos:

Hace a lo mejor cinco años, es que no podías ni pensarlo.

It's been... perhaps five years ago, the thing is you couldn't even think about it.

Captions 40-41, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 20

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A lo mejor, quizá(s), and tal vez are used interchangeably. However, while quizá(s) and tal vez are more typically (but not necessarily) placed at the beginning of sentences, and can be used with verbs in the subjunctive mood, a lo mejor is equally used at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of sentences, but is never used with the subjunctive mood. Let's see an example with subjunctive, where you can use quizá and tal vez, but not a lo mejor:

Y quizás me atropelle un carro, ¿verdad?

And maybe I could be hit by a car, right?

Caption 13, Seva Vive - 5. La historia se da cuenta - Part 1

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In this example you can replace quizá with tal vez; but if you want to replace it with a lo mejor correctly, you must change the verb to indicative:

a lo mejor me atropella un carro, ¿verdad?
And maybe I could be hit by a car, right?

Here is another example, this time with tal vez and subjunctive:

Yo pienso que tal vez no sea lo más importante pero ayuda mucho.

I think that perhaps it isn't the most important thing but it helps a lot.

Captions 9-10, El Aula - Azul Ester y Ester

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So again, if you want to sound more colloquial using a lo mejor you have to tweak the verb a bit:

Yo pienso que a lo mejor no es lo más importante pero ayuda mucho,
II think that perhaps it isn't the most important thing but it helps a lot,

There is another Spanish expression that is also used instead of quizá and tal vez. This expression is puede ser (que), which literally means "it could be." Puede ser (without que) can be used as a laconic way to express possibility: 

Y lo que haga falta, puede ser. -Sí puede ser.

And whatever else; it could be. -Yes, it could be.

Caption 49, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 11

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Puede ser que is used to introduce a possibility. It's correctly used with subjunctive:

Hasta puede ser que entonces podamos entender a Joan.

We might even be able to then understand Joan.

Caption 55, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 10

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Trying to use a lo mejor, quizá, or tal vez to express the same idea can be tricky. These are all correct options:

Quizá entonces hasta podamos entender a Joan.
Tal vez entonces hasta podamos entender a Joan.
A lo mejor entonces hasta podemos entender a Joan.


As you can see, the way you order words is important, and it's not always easy to figure it out since the rules are either too scarce or too many! Usually, native speakers intuitively know when a given phrase sounds right or not. That's why it's extremely important for Spanish learners to become familiar with the way the language is used in context by exposing themselves to as much Spanish they can get. So, a lo mejor, now is a good time to say goodbye to you so you can immerse yourself in Yabla's always growing catalog of Spanish videos.

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