"Turtles do not pets make" or "Turtles do not make pets"

Which one is grammatically correct and what's the difference between both phrases?

  • 1
    Why do you think they have different meanings? Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 17:23
  • I'm guessing you've seen the first written somewhere. Is that right? If so please tell us where you saw it written.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 18:19
  • Probably tvquot.es/schitts-creek/quote/9wz1c3x, a quote from a tv show Schitts Creek
    – James K
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 18:22
  • @JamesK - If that's the correct source, then it's relevant that the character of Moira Rose often speaks in a stilted, overly-dramatic way. Her dialog should not be used as a guide to colloquial English! Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


"A turtle does not a pet make" is an unsuccessful attempt to replace words in the expression, "One swallow does not a summer make...".

According to Wiktionary, this is a word-for-word translation of a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

This expression literally means, "There are lots of swallows in the summer, but seeing one swallow doesn't mean it's summer." The intended deeper meaning is, "If something happens that's associated with a particular event, it doesn't mean that event is happening."

So your case with a turtle as a pet doesn't fit the expression. It would mean something like, "The existence of turtles doesn't mean there's a pet". I'm not sure what the intent of the original turtle sentence is, but I'm sure it's not that.


The first, while probably grammatical, is not idiomatic and will strike most English speakers as a poetic form of expression, and probably remind them of sayings such as stone walls do not a prison make, (where make is used in a slightly different sense from your example).

There is no difference in meaning.

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