They may sound the same, but a part and apart have very different meanings. Especially if you’re not a native speaker, these homophones (words that sound the same but have different definitions) can easily confuse you.
So let’s look at how to use them and what they mean. Once you understand the basics, you’ll be able to use both a part and apart with complete confidence – all while making your writing more accurate and clear.
A part or apart – definition
The major difference between a part and apart is that one can be used as either an adverb or an adjective, and the other is a phrase.
Apart can be used as both an adverb and an adjective. When it’s an adverb, it’s used to show an object is separate from other objects.
For example: I’m going to take the toaster apart and put it back together.
When apart is used as an adjective, it’s a descriptive word that follows a noun.
For example: Africa is a world apart.
Other uses of apart include after the verb ‘to be’ and as a preposition (‘apart from’)/
- It feels like we’re apart too much.
- I love all fruits, apart from kiwi.
A part is a phrase, indicating something viewed in context as part of a whole.
- Learning is a part of living
- I was a part of that project
- Joe was going to build the machine from scratch, but he lost a part
- Is that a part of the production?
You’ll find that you can omit the ‘a’ in a lot of instances. This is generally used to improve the flow of a sentence and make it sound more natural. Be careful though – if you’re referring to a specific object, you can’t ditch the ‘a’ without losing the sentence’s meaning.
Consider the difference between: I could fix your car, but I need a part, and I could fix your car, but I need part.
A part or apart – examples
Sometimes a part and apart appear in the same sentence or paragraph. Although this may seem confusing at first, it’s easy to figure out what goes where if you focus on the sentence’s meaning.
- This business deal sets Amazon apart from Netflix; both have films as a part of their offerings.
- I have a part for that. Can you keep it apart from the rest of the equipment?
Tips on how to remember the difference between a part and apart
Remember this golden rule, and you’ll never go wrong with a part and apart.
- A part is a phrase that means a piece of a whole.
- Apart means separately.
And that’s it! That’s all you need to understand and use these common terms correctly. You’re well on your way to becoming a grammar genius!