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

Numerous writers struggle to tell the difference between apart and a part because they sound alike—they’re homophones. However, they’re nearly opposites, and you can learn to use them correctly by reading this post.

Apart means two things are separated from each other, but a part shows that they’re connected because one thing is a piece of another.

Apart meaning

Apart can be an adverb or adjective. Remember, an adverb describes a verb and an adjective describes a noun.

Let’s look at what apart means along with an example sentence for each sense of its definition.

apart (adv.): separately, into pieces, distinctly, away from, excluded from

Jory and Jamari were best friends, but they didn’t mind spending time apart.Hakeem’s plan to prank his brother totally fell apart when his mom found out.Many people couldn’t tell my sister and I apart even though she’s a year younger than I am.Apart from defending her dissertation, Shayla had completed all the requirements to earn her PhD.

apart (adj.): separate, divided

The two girls wouldn’t stop talking in class, so the teacher asked them to sit at desks that were far apart.Despite ongoing discussion, the members of the committee were worlds apart in their views.

A part meaning

Unlike apart, a part is a noun phrase. It has only one meaning.

a part (n): a component or aspect of something, a piece of a whole

For or pet store employees, cleaning up messes is a part of the job.“Don’t you want to be a part of the family?” his mother asked.In many cases, you can leave the a out and just say part of.Some English speakers teach that part of has a slightly different meaning from a part of—part of means a portion of the whole, while a part of means a defined unit within the whole.However, this doesn’t always apply, as you can see in one of the examples below.Oscar, a person, is one individual or unit within the Chess Club, but part of is still correct usage in this sentence.

Twice a month, Isabel sent part of her paycheck to her elderly parents to help out.Within a week of starting at a new school, Oscar was part of the Chess Club.

When to use apart vs. a part

Since apart has many more meanings than a part, if you’re unsure which is correct, there’s a good chance apart is what you need.

Apart shows separation, while a part shows connection. If you’re talking about something that’s one part of a larger whole, such as a team, an object that’s assembled, or a task, then use a part. But if not, apart is the right choice.

Apart of is never correct; for example, you would never say separate of or away of. From is the right preposition in these instances—apart from, separate from, or away from. So if from sounds wrong in your sentence, use a part.

If you can say one part (two words) instead and the sentence will be correct, use a part (two words) or part. In all other cases, use apart.

Even after this quick lesson, you may still have trouble knowing whether to use apart or a part when you’re writing. That’s a good time to type your sentence into QuillBot for an instant reminder. Our Spelling Checker and Proofreader can always tell them apart, which means you can, too!

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Frequently asked questions about apart vs. a part

Is it “apart of” or “a part of” a team?

A person who is a member of a team is a part of a team. Apart means “separated from” and is not used with of, so it’s not correct.

Should I say part or a part?

The meaning is usually the same whether you say part of something or a part of something.

What is the opposite of apart?

Apart shows separation or exclusion, so the opposite of apart is together or including.

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Hannah Skaggs

Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content.