Sentence Correction: Tenses - Past Simple and Progressive

Captain Matthew Webb achieved fame in 1875 by being the first man to swim unaided across the English channel; eight years later, as he attempted to garner more acclaim, swimming across Niagara Falls was to cost him his life.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The verb would cost is an incorrect tense. The future past would + V1 is used to discuss or predict something from the past into the future, which is not the case here. 

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect because of the incorrect use of the Past Perfect tense: the verb had cost does not describe an action that came before another action in the past. Rather, this sentence describes a past action that took place at a particular point in time (eight years after 1875). Therefore the Past Simple should be used for this action.

In addition, this answer choice turns the pronoun he into the subject of the verb had cost. This change is unnecessary, and is non-idiomatic. The correct way to phrase this idiom is: <subject> cost <someone> his/her/their life. We cannot say that he cost himself his own life but something/someone else cost him his life.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. In this sentence, a past action that took place at a particular point in time (eight years after 1875) and that is finished is described. Therefore the Past Simple should be used for this action. However, this sentence uses the Past Progressive.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. and is a fragment.

The sentence begins with the **subordinating clause** *...as he attempted...* but there is no **main clause** that follows. As he attempted to garner more acclaim, what happened?

Well done!

This answer choice correctly uses that past tense cost to indicate a completed action in the past.

swimming across Niagara Falls cost him

swimming across the Niagara Falls would cost him

by swimming across the Niagara Falls he had cost

a swim across the Niagara Falls was costing him

during a swim across the Niagara Falls, cost to

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