Can 'a small part' be used to refer to people, like A small part still have a radio at home.


  • I've certainly never heard it. You could say "A small part of society/the public still has...". Note how the verb changes though.
    – WS2
    May 24, 2019 at 20:02
  • Why not? Consider it's short for "a small part of the population" or "a small part of the radio audience". (Some context would be needed to make it reasonably idiomatic, though.)
    – Hot Licks
    May 24, 2019 at 20:02
  • 3
    It would be grammatical provided it had already been established to what "part" referred. If you followed a sentence such as "Most of society have abandoned radio" with "A small part still have a radio at home", it would be clear that you were talking about "a part of society".
    – WS2
    May 24, 2019 at 20:54
  • Robert Duvall's role as Boo Radley might be described as "a small part". Jun 8, 2019 at 8:55

3 Answers 3


You could certainly say that, but I would suggest making the sentence clearer by adding what the people are a part of. Part is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

One of the often indefinite or unequal subdivisions into which something is or is regarded as divided and which together constitute the whole

What this means is that you need a whole in order to have a part. Try saying a small part of the population or a small part of those surveyed where the population and those surveyed are the wholes from which the part a small group is taken from. In short, we need to be able to know what the part is of.


Not really by itself in the context you're trying to use it. You could say something like "a small part of the population". It would be more idiomatic to say something like "a fraction of people still have radio at home" or "a small number of people" or "few people still have radio at home" or if you are trying to omit the explicit reference to people, you can probably say "Few still have radio at home" as long as it's in context like "Television streaming services are the primary way Americans are entertained at home. Few still listen to radio."


There is a famous saying by Constantin Stanislavski: There are no small parts, only small actors.

If you are writing for an audience that knows this phrase, or you have introduced it earlier in your text, you could use the term the small parts to refer to people who are playing parts in life that they think are small, and whose feelings of envy and bitterness might prevent them from seeing the largeness that they really have.

Stanislavski was a very complex individual, and it’s best to understand something about him before blindly using his quotes. For some reason I can’t fathom, Wikiquote has no reference for him, but plenty of other sites do, and you can find quotations on azquote, brainyquote, goodreads, etc.

This use of the small parts is very specialized, but in the right context it can carry a lot of meaning.

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