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I'm curious about a certain sentence construct that I've seen in different contexts. I'm talking about sentences in the following style:

A * doesn't a * make.

(* being a wildcard). For example:

A good camera doesn't a good photographer make.

A google search for that specific sentence construct yields several results. However, the placement of the verb at the end of the sentence seems to be a grammatical error to me.

Is this construct grammatically correct? Is it archaic? Is it derived from a famous quote? Or is it just plain wrong?

  • I just want to replace your google search with this search, which is more specific – zyurnaidi May 16 '16 at 12:51
  • It's quite a common construct, if not something you hear every day. The word "good" isn't necessarily required. – nnnnnn May 16 '16 at 14:24
  • @nnnnnn I edited the question accordingly. zyurnaidi, I changed the google search as well – MoritzLost May 16 '16 at 15:17
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    A lightsaber doesn't a Jedi make - Yoda. – Glorfindel May 16 '16 at 15:30
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    @AlanCarmack Only a sith in absolutes deals – MoritzLost May 16 '16 at 15:41
20

It is grammatically correct. The most common usage is probably the proverb, "one swallow does not a summer make".

Here and here are some explanations of this word order. In short, it's an hyperbaton used to emphasize "make", and it is considered archaic (or poetic).

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    +1, but I don't see how it can be considered archaic if the construction is still in use today. – Alan Carmack May 16 '16 at 15:37
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    @AlanCarmack, afaik, if it won't be in use today, it would be considered obsolete, not archaic. Archaisms just sound old-fashioned outside of specific context – user27060 May 16 '16 at 15:48
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    @AlanCarmack: A single, idiomatic use does not a non-archaic word make. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 16 '16 at 15:59
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    @AlanCarmack The construction is valid, but no one uses it these days except in this context, so it sounds very archaic. – Kevin Wells May 16 '16 at 16:10
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    @AlanCarmack If methinks is not archaic (based on its frequency of usage on Twitter), you may wish to inform Merriam-Webster of their error. :) Whether a word is archaic depends in part on whether it registers tonally as archaic. A word being archaic doesn't mean that it's not used or understood (as mentioned above, that's obsolete). – apsillers May 16 '16 at 17:36
4

The sentence that jumps into my mind is

One swallow does not a summer make.

You can read more about the sentence, including historical uses at the Wikitionary Page for it. The alternative sentence with ... does not make a summer sounds lackluster in comparison.

So, no it's not ungrammatical or outdated, and your latest Google search brings up several examples.

  • but is the swallow African or European? – Federico May 17 '16 at 9:14

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