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I'm not sure if you can possess respect. I think if I had worded it differently, such as 'They were no longer afraid of losing their colleagues' respect' I wouldn't have a problem with the apostrophe, but it just doesn't look right to have an apostrophe indicating possession at the end of a sentence. Thanks!

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    No: an apostrophe would be incorrect in "They lost the respect of their colleagues". It would be different with "They lost that lovely little cat of Jim's / their colleagues' ". – Edwin Ashworth Apr 6 '18 at 21:12
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    @EdwinAshworth That would be a catastrophe. – Spencer Apr 6 '18 at 21:50
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It's "the respect of their colleagues", without an apostrophe. When you come across a potential plural/possessive confusion, think about what you'd have in the singular, or if the noun were "children".

"They were no longer afraid of losing the respect of their leader."

"They were no longer afraid of losing the respect of their children."

These examples help illustrate that you're using the nominative plural, not the possessive plural. Hence, no apostrophe.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Apr 16 '18 at 2:05

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