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I’ve noticed that some people use an article with the word “part” and the bulk of them does not (at least at some web pages I skimmed through). Which is the correct variant? I think that parts of something are countable, so there should be an article, whether definite or not.

A few examples right out of my head. Please, do not consider it as meaningful sentences. These are just for demonstrating and mean almost nothing.

KDE is a part of the Linux GUI.
The mentioned district is a part of the city.
This stick was a part of that tree.
Something is the main part of his success.

Here you go – a few real life examples I’ve just stumbled with:

… the resulting moc file is included in a _automoc.cpp file, which is then compiled as part of the target.

DarwinPorts was started in 2002 as part of the OpenDarwin project.

It was part of Tax Day protests held throughout the 1990s and earlier.

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All those are possible as far as the article before part is concerned. –  Barrie England Oct 22 '12 at 10:52
    
Use of the definite or the indefinite article or none always depends on the intended meaning. Each variation conveys a different sense. "... some people use an article with the word "part" and the bulk of them does not.": Have you considered the context in each case? Also, random Web pages are not an authentic source of correct English. –  Kris Oct 22 '12 at 10:57
    
@BarrieEngland so are there any cases when the part word should or can be used without an article? –  Occulta Oct 22 '12 at 10:57
    
@Occulta: Yes, but to understand when that is possible you really need a complete lesson on the use of the articles, which is often a difficult area for foreign learners, particularly for those whose native language doesn't have them. We can't really provide that here. It would be best if you could consult a grammar book for foreign learners, or a qualified English teacher. –  Barrie England Oct 22 '12 at 12:00
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

All the sentences with X is/was a part of Y do not require the indefinite article.

KDE is part of the Linux GUI.
The red-light district is part of the city.
This stick was part of that tree.

are all fine without a.

X is *{the/a} main part of his success.*

however, requires the definite or indefinite article. OTOH, it's not a great sentence.

X is the main reason for his success.

is much better and more natural.

If you're talking about a long novel, say, you might be able to say:

Chapters 10-20, which depict in great detail the heroine's biography and the reasons for her unusual personality and character, are {the/a} main part of the novel.

The article is required here because there's a adjective in front of the noun. The other sentences don't include that adjective before part. The sentence

This is main part of the novel

is ungrammatical.

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So.. I can use an indefinite article with the 'part' if I want to, but I can use it without that as long as it doesn't have any adjectives, right? But I must use an article if there is an adjective with it. Thanks, it have helped me a lot (: –  Occulta Oct 22 '12 at 12:14
    
Besides, how is this rule called? Maybe there are some useful resources to read about it? I searched and haven't managed to find any useful explanations earlier. –  Occulta Oct 22 '12 at 12:16
    
You'll have to look at a grammar book chapter that explains how to use determiners and articles. I don't know whether there's any name for the rule. None that I can remember. Sorry I can't be more helpful. I just corrected two grammar errors in my answer. –  user21497 Oct 22 '12 at 12:23

It depends on how the word is used. If it is used to indicate being an element of something and the element is not countable, then you don't use an article. Here is an example. "I would like to be part of that family." Here you are saying you want to "belong" to the family. On the other hand, if the word part is used as a piece of something, which is countable, as in "You won the championship and you are now a part of the sports history forever." Here there are many parts many people who were part of the history, so you must use an article here.

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