Apart vs. A Part: An Easy Grammar Guide

It can be hard to know when to use apart (one word) vs. a part (two words), but only because they look so much alike and sound the same when spoken. However, these words actually have very different meanings. 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

Key Differences: Apart vs. A Part

There are a few key differences that can help you learn how to more easily differentiate a part from apart.

Number of Words

When considering the difference between these two terms, the first thing to remember is that one is a single word while the other is a two-word phrase.

  • apart - one word
  • a part - a phrase made up of two words

Part of Speech

These two terms are not the same part of speech. That information can also help you decide between them.

  • apart - usually functions as either an adverb (describing a verb, adjective or another adverb) or adjective (describing a noun); can also be a preposition that means "besides" or "except for"
  • a part - "a" is an article (indicating a quantity of one); "part" is a noun (person, place, object, concept, or idea)

Apart Meaning vs. A Part Meaning

These two terms have very different meanings. Substituting one for the other could completely change the meaning of a sentence.

  • apart - separated in location or time, separate units, the state of being divided or separated, isolated
  • a part - one portion, piece or segment of something; when all parts are combined, they would constitute a whole (A finger is a part of a hand.)

Quick Tips 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.

  • Are you referring to a specific portion of something (a noun)? If so, you should use a part.
  • If you could substitute a synonym for the word part, such as piece, chunk, portion, or segment, without changing the meaning, use a part. (for example, "a piece")
  • If you could substitute "one" for "a," without substantively changing the meaning, use a part.
  • Are you describing an action (verb) or something (or a noun) as being away from something else? If so, use apart.
  • If you could substitute a word like distant, away, separated, or other synonyms with similar meanings, use apart.
  • If you want to use a synonym for besides, except for, or other than, use apart.
  • If you like your family, tell them you enjoy being a part of the family. If you write apart instead, that would mean that you don't want to be near them!

Examples of When to Use A Part in a Sentence

Review these example sentences and explanations to help understand when using a part is the correct choice.

  • I am glad to be a part of the team. (One person is a portion of a complete team.)
  • I want to be a part of something like the marketing department. (One person is a segment of the entire department.)
  • I had to special order a part for my car. (One particular piece of equipment is needed to make the car whole.)
  • I am so glad that you are a part of this group. (One member of a group is an individual part of the entire family group.)

Examples of When to Use Apart in a Sentence

Consider these sample sentences to help you develop a clear understanding of when the word apart can be used.

  • It makes me sad to be apart from you. (One person is separated from another by distance.)
  • I would like to buy this car, but we are just too far apart on price. (There is a lack of agreement on price; the seller wants more than the buyer is willing to pay.)
  • Spending time apart makes me realize how much I appreciate you when you're here. (This is a literal reference to the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder.)
  • My brother and I were born several years apart. (This indicates that several years passed between the birth of these two siblings.)
  • Apart from having cold hands, I am comfortable. (Here, apart is used as a preposition meaning besides or except for.)

Ready to Make Correct Language Choices?

Learning when to use apart vs. a part is an important step toward mastering proper use of the English language. Once you have mastered the difference, there are plenty of other challenging choices to make. Start with the differences between every day vs. everyday. Move on to learning how to tell the difference between has and have next. After that, focus on discovering when to use this, that, these, and those.

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