A part of the action

A dear, sweet, wonderful friend of mine recently updated his Facebook status with a rather glaring error. I’m certain it was an error of excitement and not grammatical ignorance. He is a math guy, though, so I guess you never know.

My friend, whom we’ll call Frank, was expressing his excitement at being part of a certain basketball team’s success. He wrote, “The experience of a lifetime and I’m glad I get to be apart of it.”

Oh, Frank. That’s a foul, dude.

In his haste to post (I’m sure it was just the haste), Frank failed to realize a part and apartare quite different in meaning. And while I’m certain many people make this mistake in haste, many others make it because they don’t realize the difference. Quite a few people make the mistake in the opposite direction, too, writing a part when they mean apart. So even if it wasn’t his haste that fouled the grammar, he’s in good company.

When used as a single word, apart means separated. It is often accompanied by from, as in, “I hate being apart from him for very long,” or “Apart from my brothers, no one has ever seen me shoot free throws.”

If the words are separated, though, a part can mean a piece of something larger, such as a team: “She is honored to be a part of their special day,” or “A part of the process is regular practice.”  The two-word sentiment always involves inclusion, though, and that’s a part of why it’s so disastrous to confuse it with apart.

By using the wrong word and saying he was glad he got to be apart of it, he was actually saying he was glad to be separated from the event. And that’s not at all what he meant. It’s easy to discern the true meaning of his status, though, because while you can be apart from, you cannot be apart of. On the flip side, though, you can be a part of or a part from.

So be careful.You want to be sure you are apart from the wrong things and a part of the right ones.