Some shells let you "escape" single quotes; others don't. I remember being confused enough about csh's quoting rules that I switched to bash; which at the time and on the systems I was using were documented in a way that made sense to me. In particular, remembering to escape the '!' symbol was annoying until I switched; even wrapping it in single quotes didn't stop history expansion.
The bottom line is that you have to read your shell's manpage. If you don't like what you read, switch shells. If you can't switch shells, well, grumble, and deal with what you've got.
The best reference I can give you is to type "man <your_shell_name_here>".