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I feel the sentence is a little bit off. Some alternatives I considered (but also feels a little bit off):

  • You perhaps don't have access to this contact.
  • Perhaps you don't have access to this contact.
  • You probably don't have access to this contact.
  • Probably you don't have access to this contact.
  • You may be don't have access to this contact.
  • You may not have access to this contact.

The full sentence is: "Unable to download the data. You perhaps don't have access to this contact."

What I want to know is how to form a grammatically correct simple statement that simply says there's "a possibility" that the user doesn't have access to a contact, but doesn't sound patronizing ("may not" sounds patronizing? Like the user's access to the contact is deliberately disallowed by the system, rather than from natural cause like they have not connected yet?)

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  • Probably implies a stronger likelihood than perhaps. Maybe is one word, and means the same as perhaps. I don't think may not would be understood as patronising in this context. Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 8:18
  • Considering changing your list from bullets to numbers. It'll make it easier for answers to reference the different items.
    – tkp
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 0:44

1 Answer 1

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To me your first and fifth seem awkward. The second is fine, and the last is fine; it doesn't seem patronising to me.

Both the third and fourth sentences are correct, but they say something different from the others. Using "probably" is saying that there is a high probability that the user does not have access to the contact, while the others only say there is some probability.

I would correct sentence 5 to "Maybe you don't have access to this contact". Note that "maybe" and "may be" are not the same.

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  • Thanks! I never knew that may be and maybe are not the same. And perhaps because my English is influenced by my native language, but I thought for a long time that "probably" is just in the same intensity as "perhaps" and "maybe", as in 50:50. Time to update that knowledge. 😅 Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 6:00

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