Five minutes to go. Harry heard something creak outside. He hoped the roof wasn't going to fall in, although he might be warmer if it did. Four minutes to go. Maybe the house in Privet Drive would be so full of letters when they got back that he'd be able to steal one somehow.

Three minutes to go. Was that the sea, slapping hard on the rock like that? And (two minutes to go) what was that funny crunching noise? Was the rock crumbling into the sea?

One minute to go and he'd be eleven. Thirty seconds... twenty ... ten... nine -- maybe he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him -- three... two... one...
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

I guess would in the highlighted sentence is used ‘to express a wish.’ If it is right, what does maybe mean? Maybe he wished to wake Dudley up, seems somewhat funny.


maybe he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him.

See it is an idea that came to his mind as a wish, but he intended not to do that. "Would" is used here to express that he will do something in future (it happened in past of now). So,

... he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him.

it means "He will surely wake Dudly up" (in past of now). But he did not actually intend to do so. It was just a quick thought. So "maybe" is used to make the sense a "wish" or "possibility". So when the sentence is rewritten as:

maybe he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him.

it consists of the whole sense i.e. he is not surely going to Dudly up, but he is just having a quick thought of it.

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  • 1
    I think I understand what you mean by "in [the] past of now", but I'm not sure it's the best way to get across what you're trying to say. It seems that you're talking about the future of the past that the story takes place in. – snailcar Mar 20 '13 at 14:06
  • @snailplane, Indeed you got it right. If you can edit the answer better to make the answer clear, feel free to do that. – Mistu4u Mar 20 '13 at 16:41

Maybe he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him.

The above means that Harry had an uncertain plan/wish, which was not put into effect by him.

In other words, waking Dudley up was just a passing thought, a virtual simulation, that ran through Harry's mind.

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"Would" is a conditional wish, i.e. it is a will, but with a "but" or "if" attached.

I would do that but...

I would do that if...

The would implies that the circumstances are either uncertain, or not suitable, so that the will may not be carried out because of the circumstances.

The maybe implies that the will is uncertain - he is not sure he even wants to.

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