Apart vs. A Part: An Easy Guide to Choosing the Right One

Apart and a part may look nearly the same and even sound the same when spoken, but they're completely different words. Discover what you need to know to correctly use apart vs. a part.

apart vs a part example with car parts apart vs a part example with car parts
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Key Differences Between Apart vs. A Part

There's more than a space separating apart and a part. The difference between their meanings is:

  • apart - separated
  • a part - a piece of something

When something is keeping you and your friends away from each other, use apart. But when you're describing a piece of an object, a member of a team or a smaller fraction of a whole, use a part.

How to Use Apart

When you're trying to choose between these two words, the correct word is usually apart. That's because apart has multiple functions in a sentence. It can be an adverb that modifies a verb or an adjective that modifies a noun. When it's written as "apart from," it can be a preposition as well.

Using Apart as an Adverb

When you use apart as an adverb, it's changing the meaning of a verb, an adjective or another adverb to indicate a separation. For example:

  • Please keep these dogs apart.
  • My brother and I were born several years apart.
  • The mechanic took the car apart to find the problem.

Using Apart as an Adjective

You can use apart as an adjective when it follows the noun it describes. Apart can mean "separate" or "unique from others" in this context. For example:

  • It makes me sad to be apart from you.
  • Even though we're together, it feels like we're worlds apart.
  • Olympic athletes are a skill apart.

Using Apart as a Preposition

The phrase "apart from" is a preposition that means "except for" or "besides." It comes before a clause or phrase that modifies the rest of the sentence. For example:

  • Apart from having cold hands, I am comfortable.
  • I love this school, apart from the occasional homework overload.
  • Apart from the slightly burned turkey, I'd consider this Thanksgiving a success.

How to Use A Part

The noun phrase a part is easier to use because it only has one meaning. When you combine the article a with the noun part, it describes a piece or fraction of a larger group.

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A Part as a Noun Phrase Examples

Take a look at a few examples of a part as a noun phrase in sentences. Notice that the meaning stays the same if you take out a and simply say part.

  • I am glad to be a part of the team.
  • Maria wants to be a part of the marketing project.
  • You need to order a part for your car.
  • Did the director offer you a part in the play?
  • We've always considered you a part of the group.

Quick Tip for Choosing Apart vs. A Part

When you're writing and aren't sure whether you should use apart or a part, consider these questions and scenarios.

  • Can you say "part" or "one part" instead? Use a part.
  • Are you referring to a specific portion or piece of something? Use a part.
  • Are you describing something that's separate from something else? Use apart.
  • Can you say "away from" instead? Use apart.
  • Does "besides" or "except for" work? Use apart.

Be a Part of the Grammar Community

Apart from a quick grammar check now and then, you should feel confident about the differences between apart and a part. If you'd like to clear up more misunderstandings, start with the differences between every day vs. everyday. After that, you can focus on discovering when to use this, that, these, and those.