Apart vs. A Part: What’s the Difference?

It can be difficult to remember the difference between “apart” and “a part.” They are awfully close in their appearance, and when you say the words verbally, they are almost indistinguishable. But despite similar sounds, the two have very different meanings, making it that much more important to keep them straight.

What is the Difference Between Apart and A Part?

In this post I will clear up any confusion you may have about apart vs. a part and give you a few ways to remember the differences.

When to Use Apart

apart or a part grammar rules“Apart” is an adverb meaning (of two or more people or things) separated by some distance; at a specified distance from each other in time or space. For example,

  • The rocks fell 30 feet apart.
  • The family was split 100 miles apart.

“Apart” can also function as a preposition when paired with “from.” “Apart from” means with the exception of, besides. For example,

  • Apart from this cookie, I haven’t eaten anything all day.
  • The whole room was silent, apart from Becky.

“Apart” can also function as a phrasal verb when it is preceded by certain verbs. For example,

  • Pull apart
  • Drift apart
  • Come apart

When to Use A Part

difference between apart versus a part grammar“A part,” which is actually two words, has a different meaning. “A” is an article, and “part” is a noun meaning a piece or segment of something. For example,

  • May I have a part of your sandwich?
  • Once we’re a part of this group, we all must pay dues.

“Part” does not always appear with the article “a,” however. The article “a” can be dropped when “part” is not followed by an adjective. For example, we can rewrite the two examples from above as follows,

  • May I have part of your sandwich?
  • Once we’re part of this group, we all must pay dues.

Be there an adjective before “part,” the article “a” is necessary. For example,

  • May I have small part of your sandwich? (WRONG)
  • May I have a small part of your sandwich? (CORRECT)
  • Once we’re registered part of this group, we all must pay dues. (WRONG)
  • Once we’re a registered part of this group, we all must pay dues. (CORRECT)

Quiz and Sentence Examples

  1. I need to become ______ of a book club.
  2. It’s been three years since we split ______.
  3. Make sure to keep your feet spread ______.
  4. He was asked to be ______ of their inner circle.
  5. ______ from the windy, it’s quite nice outside.

Display the answers below.

Remember the Difference

A good way to remember the difference between “apart” and “a part” is to remember the prepositions with which they are often paired.

“Apart” is often paired with the preposition “from.”

  • Keep those two apart from each other.

“A part” is often paired with the preposition “of.”

  • I am a part of this community.

Another easy usage test is to take away the article “a” and see if the sentence still makes sense. If you can remove “a” from the sentence and not change the meaning, you probably want to use “part.” If it doesn’t make sense once you remove the “a,” you probably want to use “apart.” For example,

  • I am part of this community. (CORRECT)

This sentence still makes sense once we remove the “a,” so we want to use “part.”

  • The rocks fell 30 feet part. (WRONG)

Here the sentence doesn’t make sense once we remove the “a,” so we want to use “apart.”

Finally, a reader recently tweeted me a cute mnemonic to remember the difference. It goes,

  • A part of me can’t bear to be apart from you.

Any of these tricks can help you remember the grammar of a part vs. apart.

Summary


Apart is an adverb, meaning, “separated” or “separately.”

  • Usually paired with “from.”

A part is a noun, meaning, “a piece of segment of something.”

  • Usually paired with “of.”

Answers

  1. A part
  2. Apart
  3. Apart
  4. A part
  5. Apart

as seen on http://writingexplained.org/apart-vs-a-part-difference

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