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General Writing and Grammar Help/Meaning and usage of the word "cost"

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Question
Dear Ted,
I'm not sure if I'm using the word "cost" correctly in the following sentence. In other words, does the following sentence make sense and is it grammatically correct?
"After three years of working sixty hours a week, I finally got a promotion but it cost me my health."

Answer
Dear Glen:

I'm not sure if I'm using the word "cost" correctly in the following sentence.
In other words, does the following sentence make sense and is it grammatically
correct?
"After three years of working sixty hours a week, I finally got a promotion but
it cost me my health."


*** Glen, your sentence is "questionable."  In everyday conversation, it makes sense.  However, there is a grammatical problem.  

Look at your main clause:  The pronoun "it" must have an antecedent to which it refers."
What is the antecedent of "it"?  The way you have written the sentence, the antecedent refers to the noun "promotion."  So, it is the promotion that affected your health?  I don't
think so.

Here's another version:  After three years of working sixty hours a week, which cost me my health, I finally got a promotion.

The adjective clause, which cost me my health, clearly refers to what is stated in the introductory adverbial clause that beings with "after."    This version of the sentence means that the sixty-hour-per-week working was the CAUSE of your poor health.

My recommendation is to use your original sentence, which is wrong grammatically, but perfectly acceptable in casual conversations.  If, however, you are writing a formal statement that explains your health, you CANNOT use the grammatically incorrect version!

Of course, my overall recommendation is that you do everything grammatically correct, which means you can ignore my "recommendation" immediately above this paragraph.

Have I done a good job of creating confusion?

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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