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I have learned this phrase but I am not sure how to use it properly. These are sentences I wrote.Could you check them if they were written grammatically correctly?

1.Having a college degree only goes so far to reach your goals in a life.

2.Having a college degree only goes so far on reaching your goals in a life.

3.Having a college degree only goes so far for reaching your goals in a life.

4.Average pensions only go so far meets your need of money.

5.Even being filhty-rich could make you happy only go so far, if you don't have real friends.

6.Beauty/ being good-looking only goes so far ...help making new friends.

(You can rewrite my sentences too,as long as the meanings don't change much.I would be happy if you give more examples.)

Thank you

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If you check out some written instances of "only goes so far", you'll see it's relatively uncommon to follow this expression with an additional prepositional phrase.

Probably in consequence of this, it's often not easy to say which specific preposition is most appropriate in any given context. Taking OP's first couple of examples, I'd probably go for towards/in + gerund...

a: Having a college degree only goes so far towards/in reaching your goals in a life. (AmE toward)

...but in practice I'd most likely restructure things to avoid the trailing prepositional phrase...

b: When it comes to reaching your goals in a life, having a college degree only takes you so far.


As currently presented, none of OP's examples are idiomatically acceptable to me. But they contain many errors irrelevant to the usage under consideration, and would mostly benefit from significant rephrasing as per my (b) above. My general advice would be...

1: Consider restructuring so the sentence ends with "only goes so far" (or "only takes you so far")

2: If you can't or won't follow principle (1) above, use "[X] only goes so far towards [NP]"
(where [NP] is a noun phrase identifying some goal which can't be fully satisfied using [X])

  • That moment when you go to answer a question and there's already an answer that's at least as good as anything you could come up with. Have an upvote – Kevin Jan 7 '15 at 14:51
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you so much.I got it.Can I ask, because the word go should be used as a main verb the sentence "Even being filhty-rich could make you happy only go so far, if you don't have real friends." does not make a sense at all, do it? If so, because I supposed you know what I mean, can we say (by keeping the meaning) "Even being filhty-rich could make you happy only to some extend, if you don't have real friends" Thank you – Mrt Jan 7 '15 at 14:51
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    Here's how I'd write those sentences: 3.Having a college degree only goes so far towards reaching your goals in life. 4.Average pensions only go so far in meeting your monetary needs. 5.Being filthy-rich could make you happy, but it only goes so far, if you don't have real friends. 6.Beauty / being good-looking only goes so far in helping to make new friends. – ssav Jan 7 '15 at 14:58

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