How to get the closing single quote in math mode. The apostrophe in math mode is displayed as prime.

Why can't I get $`a'$ in math mode.                                                  

3 Answers 3


You should switch to text-mode, eg.

Why can't I get $`a\textrm'$ in math mode
  • I find it is quite a good fix, but one caveat: for some formats you may get inconsistent results. For example, \boldmath $`a\textrm'$shows the left quote bold, but the second not, because the second is set to standard roman. Just be aware. ;) By the way, egreg's solutions behaves correctly. Aug 13, 2020 at 12:54
  • Can the quote be straight?
    – alper
    Apr 20 at 14:26

Punctuation that is not part of a formula should go outside the formula:

When \(a>0\), we say that \(a\) is \emph{positive}.

In the interval \([0,1]\) there are infinitely many rational numbers.

It's quite rare that quotes are used as math symbols, but I've seen them in some textbook on mathematical logic. Since ' is used for denoting a prime (dash) in math, one can resort to a different trick: the lines


will define two commands that will give left and right quotes in math and your input can become

Why can't I get $\mlq a\mrq$ in math mode.

but in this case `$a$' should be probably better.

I've added a companion to \mrq just for symmetry and, perhaps, greater clarity.


For the sake of completeness. A very flexible method to edit your equations is to step into text mode using the amsmath package command \text{<your text>}. Note that inside the \text command you can open new math environments. For example in the most simple case we might write: $\text{`$a$'}$ .

Admittedly, it looks a bit awkward, but in the example below it feels acceptable.

I also compare the \text solution with the \mathrm solution: \mathrm uses always the roman family (serif), but the function \text adapts the quotes to the family that is being used at the moment, for example sans serif.


We have equation serif \(\text{`$a$'}=20\) \(`a\textrm'=20\)
\sffamily We have equation sans \(\text{`$a$'}=20\) \(`a\textrm'=20\)


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