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What's the difference between “there are two parts of it” and “there are two parts to it”?

My student asked me this question and I'm not quite sure what the correct answer is. Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

  • "There are two parts to it" = "this thing consists of (the following) two parts". "There are two parts of it" = "over there are two of the X parts it consists of". – RegDwigнt Sep 26 '14 at 12:06
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You're actually dealing with two different meanings of "there". Existential there and locative there.

See "There's a bear here"- is there a better way to say it?

In "There are two parts to it." the sense is existential. It means "the state of things". So the meaning of the sentence is "The state of things is that it has two parts in total."

In "There are two parts of it." the sense is locative. It means "that place not near me" and the sentence means "Two parts of it, of which there may be more, are in that place not near me."

  • I agree. If you're searching a field for fragments of a disintegrated airplane, you might say, "There are two parts of it [over there]." But if you're saying that a complete thing is composed of exactly two parts, you would say "There are two parts to it." – Sven Yargs Jan 10 '15 at 9:23
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Part:

1.an amount or section which, when combined with others, makes up the whole of something. 2.some but not all of something.

There are two parts of it-refer to parts of the samething/unit E.g. Two parts of/in an exl spreadsheet i.e., columns and rows. Parts of computer, Parts of speech


1.[part:countable] a particular quantity used for measuring amount of different substances

There are two parts to it- i.e., one part water to three parts milk.

There are twelve (parts) to the dozen =>here used to express in making up

2.have a part to play (in something)

3.to be involved in influencing the development of a situation

We all have a part to play in fighting the battle against crime.

Additionally, do look at these questions: “As part of” versus “as a part of”, and Should I use an article with the word “part”?

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