I've done some research, both on this SE and off, but I can't find an answer to my unique problem. So I apologize in advance if this is a duplicate and I just missed something.

I'm dealing with a situation in my writing where a speaker begins a quotation with a single quote. Having a quotation start with three quotes looks strange, not to mention that Word won't let me do it (the single quote faces the wrong way), so I've been wondering if there is a different way to write it, or perhaps a rule to follow about it.

This is the sentence I'm trying to write:

"'Discuss things with her' is hardly what he means."

The speaker is quoting a different speaker, as denoted by the single quotes. I could rearrange the sentence to avoid the problem, but I would prefer not to, as I think it sounds best this way.

How do I handle single quotes starting a quotation?

Note: I did search this SE for this question. There are a lot of questions about single quotes IN quotations and ENDING quotations, but I was unable to find anything about them STARTING quotations. That's the specific problem I'm faced with.

  • 1
    Of course Word will let you do it. Type everything as you have but without the initial double quotation mark. (Start it with the single quotation mark—which will be displayed in the right direction.) Once done, go back to the start of the sentence and add the double quotation mark. Sep 7, 2018 at 2:28
  • If you're afraid the three strokes will be misread, you can put a space between the first double-quote and the single-quote abutting it.
    – Steve
    Feb 22, 2023 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Of course this is the way to do it.

“‘Discuss things with her’ is hardly what he means.”

So this is not a problem in English Language and Usage.

If Word won't let you do it then .........
don't use Word.
Or else convince Microsoft that this is a bug in Word.

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