A newspaper’s editorial team learned the importance of proofreading the hard way when a simple grammatical error turned an innocent headline into a very naughty innuendo.
While printing a story about high schoolers visiting local businesses for job opportunities over the weekend, The Pratt Tribune, a tri-weekly newspaper out of Pratt, Kansas, used the cringe-worthy headline, ‘Students get first hand job experience.’
Firsthand should be written as one word or hyphenated, and the paper’s failure to do so turned the headline into a sexually explicit blunder that quickly went viral.
Whoops! The Pratt Tribune, a tri-weekly newspaper out of Pratt, Kansas, printed the headline, ‘Students get first hand job experience’, over the weekend
Grammar lesson: Firsthand should be written as one word or hyphenated, and the paper’s failure to do so turned the headline into a sexually explicit blunder that quickly went viral
Just saying: Rhonda Bey was one of many Twitter users who pointed out that writing ‘first hand’ turned the innocent headline into something much more X-rated
Missing one thing: A woman named Amy tweeted, ‘Ah, the importance of hyphenation…’
The Twitter account @NCSox shared a screenshot of the headline on Sunday while imagining a conversation between the article’s writer and editor.
‘Writer: “Is it ‘firsthand’ or ‘first hand’?” Editor: “Either one is fine,”‘ he wrote.
The message has been retweeted more than 92,000 times and racked up thousands of comments, many of which came from grammar buffs who couldn’t resist poking fun at the mistake.
‘Hyphens are important,’ Swede Johanson tweeted, while a woman named Amy added: ‘Ah, the importance of hyphenation…’
‘Firsthand is correct… whereas first hand is explicit,’ Rhonda Bey noted.
The Twitter account DemosCat actually offered a useful grammar lesson to any followers who were unclear about the error, using hyphens to show how their placement can completely change a sentence.
Curious: The Twitter account Doctor Donovan wondered what the newspaper wrote for its headline on a story about mentoring
Another example: Writer and editor Kelli Blackwood reminded Twitter users about the importance of proper grammar
Right to the point: Swede Johanson simply noted that ‘hyphens are important’
‘Is that “first-hand job experience” or “first hand-job experience?” Hyphens save careers,’ the person explained.
Of course, some people couldn’t resist using other sexual innuendos to make fun of the newspaper’s mistake.
‘Someone deserves a stiff talking to,’ Anne Hughes-Justin joked, while Bart Smaalders wrote: ‘These sorts of grammar mistakes rub some people the wrong way.’
‘Must have been the editor’s first time, ’cause their hyphen broke,’ Katheirne Vie tweeted.
And Kelli Blackwood shared her opinions on the error, while also making a cheeky grammatical joke of her own.
She wrote: ‘As a writer AND editor, this has me angry laughing so hard right now! (Now imagine I accidentally put a period after laughing…)’
First time? People couldn’t resist using other sexual innuendos to make fun of the newspaper’s mistake
Prime example: Twitter account DemosCat used hyphens to show how their placement can completely change a sentence
Get it? Bart Smaalders joked about how grammatical errors ‘rub some people the wrong way’
Clever: Anne Hughes-Justin couldn’t resist tweeting that ‘someone deserves a stiff talking to’
Some other people were concerned about the proper spelling of the sexual act that was accidentally referenced in the headline, with Paul Kruszewski, asking: ‘Is it hand job or handjob?
Unsurprisingly, a number of comments left in response to the post were shared by grammar lovers, and Andrew Roy noted: ‘My second fav thing about this tweet is the number of English buffs providing the grammatically correct way to write that headline.’
A few people even got into a heated debate about whether it should have been written as ‘firsthand’ or ‘first-hand’.
‘It should be “first-hand”; the problem with media nowadays isn’t so much about “fake” or not — it’s about poor writing/copy-editor skills,’ Michael Puskar wrote.
His tweet prompted H.R. Gordon to respond: ‘No, it shouldn’t. It should be firsthand. It’s only “first-hand” when used as an adverb.’
Quick question: Some other people were concerned about the proper spelling of the sexual act that was accidentally referenced in the headline
Heated: The comments section of the post is filled with grammar lovers, and a few people even got into an argument about whether it should have been written as ‘firsthand’ or ‘first-hand’
His take: Michael Puskar insisted it should be ‘first-hand’ when he slammed the media
According to AP Style: Michael’s tweet prompted H.R. Gordon to respond, ‘No, it shouldn’t. It should be firsthand. It’s only “first-hand” when used as an adverb’
Expert opinion: Andrew Brown, a journalist at the Canberra Times in Australia, asked his colleague, editor Markus Mannheim, to weigh in on how firsthand should be written
Michael added that it is right either way, noting that ‘hyphenated works for adjectives as well.’
H.R. argued that it isn’t according to Associated Press style, ‘which most America newspapers follow.’
Michael reminded her that the focus was on the blatantly incorrect headline they were discussing and dropped out of the conversation while she continued to argue with him.
Andrew Brown, a journalist at the Canberra Times in Australia, asked his colleague, editor Markus Mannheim, to weigh in.
‘1 word, 2 words or hyphenated?’ he asked, and Markus responded: ‘One word (though a hyphenated compound adjective also works). This is a great example of why.’
The newspaper’s infamous headline has been changed for the online version of the story, which reads: ‘Students get job-site training during Disability Mentoring Day.’