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Please consider the following sentences: "It's part of the life." "It's a part of the life."

What is the difference in the meaning between these sentences? Why is it allowed to omit the article in the first sentence?

Thank you in advance.

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2 Answers 2

The first thing it say is that you need life and not the life. That’s because you’re referring (I assume) to life in general, rather than to any specific life.

There’s little difference in meaning between part of life and a part of life. Both make generic reference, that is, they refer to part in general, and not to any particular part. The choice between them depends on whether in this case you view part as a singular countable noun, in which case you would say a part of, or whether you view it as an uncountable noun, in which case you would say part of. I would guess that part of was more common.

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About "life" and not "the life": unless you're referring elliptically to "the life of an airline pilot" or some other profession. –  Peter Shor Sep 17 '13 at 15:33
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Yes. I was careful to say that I assumed the OP was referring to life in general. –  Barrie England Sep 17 '13 at 15:36
    
Excellent, thank you for your answer. What gives one the right to view "part" as an uncountable noun, since it seems to be a countable noun (with parts being the plural form)? –  Bruno Gasperov Sep 17 '13 at 16:07
    
I would say that you can see part as uncountable if you see it as being some kind of abstract quality, rather as if you were talking about its being an aspect of life. By contrast, a part is countable if you see life as being made up of a set of discrete parts. But these are fairly minor and subtle points. In practice, there is little difference between them. –  Barrie England Sep 17 '13 at 16:32
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Both sentences mean similar things but with a slightly different emphasis. The first tends to suggest an important part of the life:-

Being the butt of obscene jokes? It's part of the life [of a pheasant plucker].

Adding the indefinate article adds the connotation that it is a smaller, not quite so important aspect of the life.

Getting tickly feathers down your trousers? It's a part of the life [of a pheasant plucker].

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