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Apart vs. A Part: How to Use Each

Sometimes apart vs. a part can be confusing, especially to non-native speakers of English. Let’s break this down.  Apart is more commonly used as an adverb. It indicates a separation between things. A part on the other hand means “a section of a whole,” or in a theatre setting, “the role of an actor.” Apart from is a preposition which is frequently used. 

These two expression differ by a single space and share similar origins. Apart originates from the Latin words ad, which means “to,” and “pars” which means “a piece, division or share.”   The word Part is descended from partem, which is the Latin accusative form of pars. It’s fascinating how a word that describes separation come to be so alike a phrase that is all about being essential to a unified whole. Let’s dig deeper into apart vs. a part:

Using “Apart” 

We can use apart  to show that two things are separated. Be it in physical terms, figuratively, or in time. When talking about a separation, avoid using the incorrect a part.

  • Incorrect: Mary and her sister were born two years a part
  • Correct: Mary and her sister were born two years apart

Here, Mary and her sister are separated by time, therefore apart is used. 

  • Incorrect: She had a hard time being a part from her children for more than a few hours
  • Correct: She had a hard time being apart from her children for more than a few hours

The woman has a hard time being separated from her children by distance.

  • Incorrect: Although the siblings grew up in the same household, their personalities could not be further a part
  • Correct: Although the siblings grew up in the same household, their personalities could not be further apart

Here, the separation is figurative.

Apart can also mean “to render in pieces or parts.” For example:

  • The newly-found financial difficulties has tore the young couple apart
  • While the criticism was constructive, the professor did tear my presentation apart
  • Tommy had a very inquisitive mind as a child and loved taking things apart to see how they worked. 

If we add “from” we can form a preposition apart from to mean “besides” or “except for.”

  • Apart from a few small scratches in the back, the car looked brand new. 

How and When to Use “A Part” 

The phrase apart is comprised of two words: and part. A is an article, while part is a noun which is synonymous with piece. The phrase is often paired with the preposition of. 

  • Mike was a hard worker and we were all thrilled to have him as part of the team. 

It felt fulfilling to be a part of something greater than yourself. 

  • Everyone at the firm get a part of the profits during the stock boom.

Its important to remember the the article is not always essential to your sentence. 

Also, part can also indicate a piece of something. A component of a great. 

  • German cars, while flashy, require expensive parts. 

Lastly, a part is used to describe an actor’s role in a film, play or musical.

  • He auditioned for the main part in the school play. 

Rules of Thumb – “A part” vs. “Apart”

Apart  renders things separate

A part is piece of a section of a greater whole 

Apart (separation) vs. A part (piece of something)

To further cement your newly-found knowledge, here is a quick quiz from

Related: Is it alright or all right? 

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By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal, and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It, and Article Valley.

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