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Apart vs. A Part: Learn the Difference in 16 Colorful Examples

Homophones with Opposite Meanings

In my 17 years as an English teacher, one of the lessons I’m most passionate about is how to use the words “apart” versus “a part.” Why is this so important? Because the two terms actually mean OPPOSITE things — meaning that when they’re mixed up, sentences flip into unwanted meanings!

Apart or A Part
A part of this article is to learn to tell these words apart…

Definitions of “A Part” and “Apart”

What Does “A Part” Mean?

Time for the first half of the apart vs. a part quandary: “a part.” The two-word phrase “a part” means that something is connected deeply to something else — either physically attached and touching, or conceptually belonging to it. If something is a part of another thing, it is a piece of that whole. The parts of speech for “a part” are an article (“a”) and noun (“part”).

Examples of “A Part”

Examples: Your nose is a part of your face, and your door is a part of your house (unless a rogue alpaca ripped it off or something). Ready for a tricky one? A part is a part of your hairstyle if you’re into combs. Ooh!

For more conceptual and less physical examples, I am a part of the teaching community; I could walk into an education conference and feel belonging. Another example: My state, Massachusetts, is a part of the group of states known as New England — and we all try to convince New York that we’re cooler.

Definition and Examples of “Apart”

Got it? Good, because now we’re about to get wild in the world of apart vs. a part. When we smush the “a” and the “part” together and form the word “apart,” the meaning flips. Apart means SEPARATE from! This adverb (or sometimes adjective) indicates physical, emotional, or mental distance. This is a far cry from our friend “a part” who just wants to get together with others and be close and cozy!

For example: “I wanted to stand as far apart from the barnyard animals as possible because they smelled.” Now let’s examine a whole bunch of sentences with examples from my exploits to different states and countries to practice.

Apart vs. A Part

What is the difference between the homophones "A Part" and "Apart?" Here are 16 examples in sentences from my travels around the world that demonstrate the definition of each word in action.

Did Those Sentences Help?

I hope that those many examples from around the world gave glimpses of apart and a part in action so you can tell them apart (ooh) in the future. Now, let’s close this article with tricks to write these devious homophones correctly in the future.

How to Remember Apart vs. A Part

Trick 1: Take off “A”

A memory tactic shared on this grammar tutorial explains that one way to distinguish the homophones apart and a part is to remove the “a” and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, you should use “a part” (two words). If it becomes gibberish, “apart” is needed.

Apart vs. A Part
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Trick 2: Think the Opposite of the Letters

Ready for a hilarious way to remember the difference between these two homophones, and decide whether to use apart or a part? Here goes:

When the letters are TOGETHER to form the word “apart,” they mean SEPARATE.

When the letters are SEPARATE to form the words “a part,” they mean TOGETHER with.

Whaaaat?! The trick is to remember that the definition is the opposite of what the letters are doing! Is your mind blown yet? Hehe — you can tell by my excitement why I became an English teacher.

Want more vocabulary geekery? Check out my tutorials on juxtaposition examples, a liminal space, hubris, an influence synonym, and performativity.


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Fiona Maclean

Monday 15th of February 2021

Great tips - it's so easy to get this sort of thing wrong isn't it!

Lillie Marshall

Monday 15th of February 2021

Apart and a part are mixed up more often than they're not!

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