FACT CHECK: Did Mark Twain Say, ‘It Take Two Years To Learn To Talk, And The Rest Of Your Life To Control Your Mouth’?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A Facebook post claims that writer Mark Twain said, “It takes two years to learn to talk, and the rest of your life to control your mouth!”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Twain ever said or wrote this expression. It has been in circulation since at least 1909.

Fact Check:

While he authored many witty sayings, this oft-shared quote did not originate with Twain, author of classics like “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

The Daily Caller searched for the expression in Twain’s entire body of work but found no matches. There is no record of the saying or anything similar in his correspondence either.

“I can find no record of Twain having ever said that,” confirmed Twain scholar Cindy Lovell in an email to the Daily Caller. (RELATED: Did Mark Twain Say, ‘If Voting Made A Difference, They Wouldn’t Let Us Do It’?)

“This anonymous joke was circulating by 1909,” writes the website Quote Investigator, “and many variations have evolved over time.”

Indeed, the quote appeared in a 1909 Washington newspaper editorial, though the wording varied slightly and implied that the unattributed saying was already widely known, according to Quote Investigator. Since then, versions of the expression have also been attributed to Ernest Hemingway and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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