The Vine: November 7, 2012
I need reassurance.
My son's name is Atticus, and when I write about his belongings, I put an apostrophe plus an S. "Atticus's books." "Atticus's toys." "Atticus's room." But a few people have corrected me and high school was a long time ago and I am losing confidence. I remember you said years ago that Jesus and Moses are the only ones who don't get that extra S. Have the rules changed?
The rules have not changed, although I didn't realize myself that those rules include, according to Garner, all "Biblical and Classical names ending in –s" — Jesus and Moses, but also Aristophanes, Grotius, e.g.
But Garner's ruling stands: "To form a singular possessive, add -'s to most singular nouns — even those ending in -s and -x (hence witness's, Vitex's, Jones's, Nichols's)." He adds that AP Stylebook "calls for nothing more than an apostrophe" for nouns ending in -s…but we can chalk this up to the same "save space in typesetting" rationale that tends to advise against the serial comma.
Not that that's going to stop well-meaning overcorrecters from letting you know it's "wrong," but short of sending them online citations, you'll probably just have to rehearse a polite "oh, really? I'll have to look that up" while continuing to punctuate it as you have. Meaning: correctly.