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I understand that both Quizá and Acaso are translated to "Perhaps" or "Maybe" in English. Is there any difference between these two words in Spanish, other than quizá being apparently more common? Or are they completely interchangable?

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Just thinking on it, I didn't found an example where they are not interchangeable. RAE's definition of "acaso" includes "quizá" as a synonym. BTW, "acaso" at least in my area is a really strange word. –  machlas Jun 3 '13 at 8:20
    
@machlas: Which is your area? –  Flimzy Jun 3 '13 at 17:03

7 Answers 7

For me ACASO is more paired with DE CASUALIDAD, SERÁ, among others. ACASO is a word which means some kind of doubt but that I'd only use on interrogative questions like these: ¿ACASO QUIERES QUE TAMBIÉN LAVE LA ROPA? ¿ACASO ESE HOMBRE SE ATREVERÁ A ROBARME? and perhaps using certain tone of alarm and concern. On the other hand QUIZÁS is a word as well used to mean some kind of doubt but more flexible, you can use it on affirmative and negative sentences. QUIZÁS MAÑANA VAYAMOS AL CINE -- QUIZÁS LA SUEGRA NO VENGA MAÑANA, ¡QUE BUENO!

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Quizá means "maybe" in the sense of uncertainty or doubt. One doesn't know whether something (good or bad) will happen.

"Acaso" has the connotation of "in case of," and means "maybe" in the sense of "risk;" that is, there is a risk or chance that a (bad) thing will happen.

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I cannot explain clearly the difference, but what I can state is that they are not completely interchangable. And there are many examples:

"Quizá llueva mañana" vs "Acaso llueva mañana"
"Quizá lo necesite" vs "Acaso lo necesite"
"-¿Vendrás a la fiesta? -Quizás" vs "-¿Vendrás a la fiesta? -Acaso"

In fact, all the previous sentences using acaso sound completely wrong for me...

My suggestion is to translate both maybe and perhaps as: quizá, quizás or even a lo mejor.

I use acaso very few times, only in sentences like:

"¿Acaso tengo yo la culpa?"
or
"Llevaré un abrigo por si acaso hace frío"
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2  
Also "Por si acaso" (just in case) is a common usage –  belisarius Jun 3 '13 at 13:39
    
While acaso in your first set of examples is uncommon in normal, urban Spanish from Spain, it is normal in some areas. The only snag would be the last one which would be "Acaso vaya (a la fiesta)". I would say they are indeed interchangeable but I'd recommend to prefer quizá except in constructions like those you mention. –  deStrangis Jun 3 '13 at 14:58
    
Yes, "por si acaso" is very common, and @deStrangis, could you provide an example of any area where e.g. "acaso lo necesite" is more normal than "quizás lo necesite" or "a lo mejor lo necesito"? I think it is much less common in all urban, rural and any areas (of Spain, I don't know in Latin America...) –  MikO Jun 3 '13 at 15:09
    
Not more normal, but perhaps it's just as normal in some areas in Guadalajara, Soria and Aragón in Spain. I've heard it from not too cultured people and it shocked me because I find it perhaps a bit too literary –  deStrangis Jun 4 '13 at 15:46
    
That's interesting @deStrangis, I'm from Galicia (with lots of rural areas), and I've never heard expressions like that... A mí también me suena como a novela antigua o algo así ;) –  MikO Jun 4 '13 at 15:59

I'm Mexican and eventhough there are no differences for the use of both (quizá y acaso), "quizá" is more likely to be used in a regular conversation than "acaso". I would only use "acaso" in "por si acaso" but then it losses the regular translation "perhaps" or "maybe" for "just in case".

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In case it helps:

ACASO can mean "in the event that" as in "por si acaso", indicating eventuality "is it not true (or is it not the case) that...?" Acaso no lloran las flores?

In both cases it is used in a subjunctive phrase, indicating possibility.

QUIZÁ indicates "doubt," "possibility," or "potentiality" As in quizá llueva mañana, equivalent to "tal vez"

It is also used as "may be"

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Quizá means "Denote the possibilty that happen" and Acaso "unforeseen occurrence".

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Acaso is for defending yourself from something, because someone is blaming on you for something that you didn't do... for example:

-"Debes pagar la ventana" 
- "¿Acaso yo la rompí?"

- "You must pay the window"
- "But I didn't break it" or "did I break it?"

And quizá is when you can't make a decision in a situation in which you don't know for sure what will happen or if you're guessing what could possibly happen.. for example..

(First meaning)

- ¿Irás a la fiesta?
- Quizá vaya.

- Will you got to the party?
- Maybe I'll go.

(Second meaning)

- ¿Y que te dirá?
- Quizá que quiere romper conmigo.

- ¿And what will she say?
- Maybe she wants to break up with me.

You can also use acaso when you're going to do something but then you think of something (that you are not prepared for) will happen, for example:

   - Si acaso ella te dice algo acerca de la ventana, dile que mañana le llevas el dinero.
    - Maybe she says something about the window, tell her you'll pay her back tomorrow.

and also when you are forecasting something and you take action against that ...

  • Toma esta sombrilla por si acaso llueve.
  • Take this umbrella in case it rains.

I'm a native spanish speaker.

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