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How should I properly write quotation marks and apostrophe in cases like the following ones?

There are five "McDonald's"s in our city.

All "7-11"'s in our town were opened within the last ten years.

  • It is generally simpler and cleaner to avoid the issue altogether by writing something like "McDonald's locations" or "7-11 stores". Regardless of which ordering you use, combining quotes and apostrophes looks messy and distracting. – Jonathan Garber Jun 10 '13 at 12:47
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    but what if I am transcribing someone's speech word for word. Then I need to know how to go about such cases. – brilliant Jun 10 '13 at 12:51
  • @brilliant: perhaps you just need to come up with better (i.e. closer to real-world) examples, but in both of your examples, the quotation marks are totally unnecessary, and in the 7-11 example, the apostrophe is arguably unneeded as well. (ETA: and now I've read further and noticed that WendiKidd said exactly the same thing.) – Martha Jun 10 '13 at 15:51
  • @Martha - "and in the 7-11 example, the apostrophe is arguably unneeded as well" - That's according to one of the two competing views. According to the other one, it is needed (see my latest comment to WendiKidd's answer below) – brilliant Jun 10 '13 at 15:54
  • @brilliant: hence "arguably". :) – Martha Jun 10 '13 at 15:55
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I don't see any reason to use quotation marks at all in your example sentences; you don't appear to be quoting something someone has said, and restaurant/convenience store names are not inherently written with quotation marks. In addition, the apostrophe is not appropriate in your second example; multiple 7-11s are plural, not possessive, and so you simply add the s without an apostrophe.

That said, here's an example to illustrate how you might use apostrophes and quotation marks together in a sentence where it makes sense:

We looked at the signs above each of the diners along the street; the one that read "Travis'" looked most inviting.

So yes, in this case you would place an apostrophe before a closing quotation mark. You're directly quoting the sign, so there's really no other option. It looks a bit odd, sure, so you might try to avoid it, but it's correct. Additionally if you use a font that distinguishes more clearly between apostrophes and quotes, it might be easier to read.

  • Your example illustrates something that has never been a problem to me - it just quotes exactly what was written in the sign, i.e. the sign's contents, in which the apostrophe was not in the very end of that sign's contents. I wonder what would be the right punctuation if the sign read something like Lukas' or Descartes' – brilliant Jun 10 '13 at 14:56
  • @brilliant Got it! Editing now! – WendiKidd Jun 10 '13 at 14:59
  • "In addition, the apostrophe is not appropriate in your second example; multiple 7-11s are plural, not possessive, and so you simply add the s without an apostrophe" - As far as I know, it's a debatable matter. Obviously, you're putting forth here only one view on it. However, according to another view (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophy) apostrophe must be used for "marking as plural some written items that are not words established in English orthography". Since "7-11" is not an established word in English orthography, I used an apostrophe to turn it into plural. – brilliant Jun 10 '13 at 15:04
  • @brilliant I could not find your quote in the article you linked, but the quote you used stated "some written items" (my emphasis), not all. This is obviously somewhat subjective, but in my experience, the rule of thumb seems to be, use it as little as possible. The most commonly accepted uses seem to be abbreviations that combine upper and lowercase letters or have interior periods (PhD's, M.A.'s), lowercase letters (p's and q's), and (controversially) ranges of years (90's vs 90s). (sample source: dailywritingtips.com/when-to-form-a-plural-with-an-apostrophe) – Ken Bellows Jun 10 '13 at 16:48
  • Actually, I think I found where you meant to quote, but it's a bit different: "[apostrophes are used for] The marking by some as plural of written items that are not words established in English orthography." The point here is that some people use apostrophes, rather than some words need apostrophes. – Ken Bellows Jun 10 '13 at 16:51

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