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Example phrases:

  • Part of the company is very efficient.
  • Parts of the company are very efficient.

Google search for 'parts of' has 2.5B results.

'parts of' has 650M Google search results, with many pages referring to the concept of 'parts of speech', but others as the everyday word. But it did have at least one such usage here on the phrase "Parts of New Jersey boom with incentives, others struggle"

Is there a difference in meaning between the two, or situations in which one is preferred?

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    One is singular the other plural. If I said 'a table at the company was damaged in the fire', it would differ from 'tables at the company were damaged in the fire', for reasons which I think you will readily understand.
    – WS2
    Jan 12 '15 at 11:16
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    With complex structures such as a company, even a 'part' may well have subdivisions. So, your two statements may be equally true for the same situation, depending on how the 'parts' are envisioned. Obviously, 'parts' stresses the disjoint nature of the sections mentioned. Jan 12 '15 at 11:20
  • As regards the grammaticality of the different usages, compare 'Part of the country is likely to be flooded.' and 'A fraction of the country is likely to be flooded' & 'Parts of the country are likely to be flooded.' and 'Some areas of the country are likely to be flooded.' Again, the latter variants emphasise the fact that there are different subsets involved. [I've changed the example purely on the basis of where we tend to be happy with using the word 'fraction'. 'Fraction of a company' doesn't really work; 'fraction of a country' sounds a little odd but is often used on the internet.] Jan 12 '15 at 11:46
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They are two very close senses of the same word.

The second uses part in a countable noun sense that means "an amount, but not all, of a thing or a number of things".

The first uses part in an uncountable noun that means "some, a part or some parts [in the previous sense]". Because it is uncountable it is used with singular accord*

These two close senses amount to the same thing. "Parts of the company" emphasises the idea that these parts are separate from each other and hints that they may be identifiable, and you might favour it for that reason, while conversely you might favour "part of the company" precisely to avoid that suggestion; but they are just suggestions hinted at by the plurality rather than something explicitly stated, so either could indeed be used.


*Though note that when referring to a subgroup of a group of countable elements then plural accord is sometimes used with both, so "part of the soldiers were cut down", "part of the soldiers was cut down", "a part of the soldiers as cut down" and "a part of the soldiers were cut down" could all be found.

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  • All the soldier examples sound wrong to me. some of the soldiers seems more appropriate.
    – Barmar
    Jan 12 '15 at 22:23

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