In short – ‘tal vez’ and ‘quizás’ are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. There aren´t any subtle differences between the two as there are between ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’ in English.
If you´ve been chatting to native Spanish-speakers, you may have heard the expressions ‘tal vez’ and ‘quizás’ (also written and pronounced as ‘quizá’) used interchangeably as synonyms of ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’.
This might have left you pondering the difference between them and, in particular, how to know when to use one or the other …
If that´s the case then you´re in luck as I´m going to teach you all there is to know about ‘tal vez’ and ‘quizá’!
Let´s get into it!
‘Tal vez’ vs ‘quizás’
Our main concern with ‘tal vez’ vs. ‘quizá’ derives from the (very subtle!) differences between ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’.
Even though they can be used interchangeably, ‘maybe’ is considered a smidge less formal than ‘perhaps’.
‘Perhaps’ can also be placed at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence, whereas ‘maybe’ is only ever positioned at the beginning or the end (well those are the “official” rules anyway!).
So, which Spanish word corresponds to ‘perhaps’ and which to ‘maybe’?
If you dip into the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, you’ll discover that ‘quizás’ (or ‘quizá’) is a word which ‘denotes the possibility of what is expressed to be true’, but the definition of ‘tal vez’ is a simple ‘quizá’.
And this is where it gets really easy because there’s actually no real difference between them!
There’s also no predilection as to their position in a sentence, so you can choose one or the other indistinctly.
Se nubló el cielo de repente. Quizá / Tal vez la aplicación del clima se había equivocado y llovería después de todo.
The sky got cloudy all of a sudden. Perhaps the weather app was wrong and it´s going to rain after all.
Como tal vez / quizá recuerdes, soy alérgico a los mariscos.
As you perhaps remember, I’m allergic to seafood.
Quizá sería buena idea llevar el coche al taller pronto.
Maybe it’d be a good idea to take the car to the mechanic soon.
Si, quizás, termino antes la tarea, podría ir al parque.
If, perhaps, I finish my homework earlier, I could go to the park.
Luz – ¿Te gustaría ir a patinar el sábado?
Bernardo – No lo sé, tal vez /quizá.
Luz – Would you like to go roller-skating on Saturday?
Bernardo – I don’t know, maybe.
Erika’s note – it’s worth mentioning that both ‘quizás’ AND ‘quizá’ are correct and that there’s no difference between the two! Phew!
Expressions with ‘tal vez’ / ‘quizás’
Más vale un sí que dos quizás
This popular saying literally translates to ‘better a yes than two maybes’.
And what (on earth!) does that mean?
Well, it´s basically saying that a certainty (i.e., a ‘yes’!) is always better than just entertaining possibilities (i.e., things that aren´t certain).
Anastasia – ¿Debería tomar el trabajo que me ofrecieron, o sería mejor esperar a que respondan las otras vacantes en las que participé?
Carlos – Yo lo tomaría. Más vale un sí, que dos quizás …
Anastasia – Should I take the job they’re offering me, or should I wait to hear from the other job vacancies I applied to?
Carlos – I’d take it. A yes is better than two maybes …
Tal vez de un necio sale un buen consejo
This is another popular saying and it literally translates to ‘perhaps a fool can offer good advice’, meaning that even the most obtuse of people can have moments of lucidity.
Similar expressions to ‘tal vez’ / ‘quizás’
A lo mejor
‘A lo mejor’ literally translates as ‘to the best’ in English, which doesn´t really make sense until you realize that it´s actually just a very common and slightly more informal synonym of ‘quizás’ and ‘tal vez’.
If you’re in Mexico, you may hear ‘a la mejor’ as well, but the former is definitely more common than the latter.
Elisa – Estoy harta de tener la misma pesadilla siempre.
Alicia – A lo mejor necesitas confrontar tus miedos …
Elisa – I’m sick of having the same nightmare all the time.
Alicia – Maybe you need to confront your fears …
Another synonym of ‘tal vez’ and ‘quizá’ in Spanish is ‘acaso’. This one, however, has become less common in everyday speech over the years, especially in Mexico.
¡Nos está cayendo la furia de Tláloc!* Acaso debamos enviarle un mensaje a papá para que sepa que llegamos con bien.
It´s absolutely pouring with rain! Maybe we should send a message to Dad so he knows we’re safe.
*Erika´s note – in Mexico ‘la furia de Tláloc‘ means ‘heavy rain‘, be sure to check out our article on all the different ways to say rain in Spanish if you wanna find out more!
That´s all, folks!
You can use ‘tal vez’ and ‘quizá’ interchangeably regardless of the situation!
Go ahead and choose your favorite, but keep in mind that you have a few other options if you ever feel like mixing things up!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out our article on ‘has‘ vs ‘haz‘ if you’d like to get to grips with more confusing Spanish words!
¡Hasta la próxima!