part vs a part

Lucretia

Senior Member
Russian
Hello,
I find part a peculiar word. It looks like a usual count noun, but it seldom takes an article without a modifier.
We’ve only done part of the work.
The BBC took the opportunity to broadcast part of another pre-recorded interview on Radio 4.
The omission of article seems to me not logical in the above sentences and the like.
Still I’ve found a few instances with the article on the Net. Are they correct?
We are glad you have chosen to be a part of our community.
Sculptures in cities are a part of cultural history.
I wonder if somebody could contribute a rule to guide me. There must be some, mustn’t there?
Thank you.



 
  • NealMc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi

    Not sure if this confuses or clarifies matters.

    We’ve only done part of the work. We've done a vague and undefined amount of work.
    We’ve only done a part of the work. We've done an amount of work we can quantify.


    The BBC took the opportunity to broadcast part of another pre-recorded interview on Radio 4.
    Some bit to fill dead time.
    The BBC took the opportunity to broadcast a part of another pre-recorded interview on Radio 4. A contentious bit.

    We are glad you have chosen to be a part of our community. A pillar of the community.
    We are glad you have chosen to be part of our community. A face in the crowd.

    Using "a" gives emphasis.

    Cheers
    Neal Mc
     

    Lucretia

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you, Neal Mc,
    You mean to say either usage is possible depending on what it implies? I wish I were sure…
     

    NealMc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi

    A direct question justifying my opinion is part of using the forum I don't like.
    A direct question justifying my opinion is a part of using the forum I don't like.

    Part of me is sure, part of me would prefer a cup of tea right now.
    A part of me is sure, a part of me would prefer a cup of tea right now.

    I've tried to think up examples which might confirm or contradict - but my first answer still stands. It adds emphasis to use "a" but it's (generally) not required.

    Cheers
    Neal Mc
     

    Cayuga

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    Wow! Lucretia, this is a truly excellent question.

    I don't have any idea about a rule yet, so I'm afraid I'm just going to muddy the waters.

    We’ve only done part of the work. How big a part and which part are (deliberately?) not specified.
    We’ve only done a part of the work. I guess it means the same thing, but it sounds a bit odd to me.
    The BBC took the opportunity to broadcast part of a pre-recorded interview on Radio 4. How big a part and which part are not specified.
    The BBC took the opportunity to broadcast a part of a pre-recorded interview on Radio 4. Implies that the interview is divided into sections, and one complete section was broadcast.
    We are glad you have chosen to be part of our community. You chose to join us.
    We are glad you have chosen to be a part of our community. Implies a noticeable part.
    Sculptures in cities are part of cultural history. Just sounds odd for some reason. "Sculptures in cities are part of our cultural history," or "of American cultural history," sounds better. I don't know why.
    Sculptures in cities are a part of cultural history. Sounds fine, but adding "our" or "American" still makes it sound better.
    A direct question justifying my opinion is part of using this forum that I don't like. I'm sorry, Neil, but I edited your sentence a bit. As it is here, it sounds odd to me, though its meaning is clear.
    A direct question justifying my opinion is a part of using this forum that I don't like. That sounds right.
    Part of me is sure, part of me would prefer a cup of tea right now. Sounds fine.
    A part of me is sure, a part of me would prefer a cup of tea right now. Means exactly the same thing as the prior sentence, but sounds a little odd.

    This is all just from my ear and my gut. Does anyone else agree, or am I way off base?
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't think there is any rule, and I think the use or omission of "a" is arbitrary. At least at the present time and where I am....
     

    Lucretia

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you!

    I just wonder if such a dilemma is likely to be part of a test. If it's really arbitrary, it isn't. Back to square 1.
     

    Zoltaire

    New Member
    India
    Hi Lucretia,

    It’s like this:

    A is usually dropped before part if there is no adjective.

    Examples:
    Part of the roof was missing (BUT A large part of the roof was missing.)

    Part of the trouble is that I can’t see very well.
    (More natural than A part of the trouble…)

    Lucretia was in Australia part of last year.

    With kind regards,
    Zoltaire
    (New Delhi)
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi Lucretia,

    It’s like this:

    A is usually dropped before part if there is no adjective.
    ....................................
    While I do agree that when there is an adjective the a is used, I'm not sure about the a being usually dropped if there isn't. Perhaps it is dropped the majority of the time, or was once, or is in some places...but I'm not sure...I would rather say often dropped. And even if usually is true, there's still that arbitrariness......

    If the issue does become part of a test, Lucretia, I would try to remember that life often brings us unfair tests! It never is much of a consolation to remember this, is it?
     

    kritika

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi & English
    Hey,

    I have question related to this-

    I am in a habbit of saying ' a part of', is that grammatically correct?

    Thanks!
     

    Copy editor

    New Member
    English
    NealMc has given an excellent but not quite complete answer. The article's inclusion/omission is dependent not on the writer's desire to emphasize something but on the noun's definiteness or indefiniteness.

    Use "a part of," with the article, when you're writing about a specific piece or portion or section of a larger whole, whether that whole is concrete or abstract:
    -- In Oo Sack, a part of the world devastated by famine and the Opium Wars, the boy and his family were starving.
    -- Uncertainty is always a part of business, but in a recession it dominates everything else.

    Use "part of," without the article, when "some" would be a suitable substitute (i.e., when you're writing/talking about an indefinite portion):
    -- The BBC broadcast part of the interview. (but The BBC broadcast a crucial part of the interview.)

    Use "part of," without the article, when you're writing/talking about "an essential or integral attribute or quality" (the preceding is from a definition on dictionary.com):
    -- A sense of humor is part of a healthy personality.
    Similarly,
    -- Vegetables are part of a balanced diet.
    -- As the saying goes, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
    -- Change is part of life.

    If in doubt, test the sentence by reversing the nouns and linking them with "includes" (A balanced diet includes vegetables; Life includes change); if the altered sentence makes sense, then you're writing about an indefinite (unquantifiable) portion or about a quality/attribute, and you omit the article.
     
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