Hello teachers,

The article "a"

I am proud to be a part of a group that...
I am proud to be part of a group that...

Is there a rule?
Thanks in advance!
Original Post
Hello, Thatguy! Smile

Nope, no rule. Both using or not using the indefinite article will work in this phrase.

The first emphasizes "a part of many." Somewhat modest.

The second emphasizes "belonging," without saying anything about the number/multiplicity of constituent parts.
Last edited by Marius Hancu
I think we need to be careful when giving very subjective viewpoints on how we interpret phrases or how they strike us. This is especially true in language teaching.

In our ideolects (the very individual ways we interpret and use our mother tongues), what may seem "modest" to one person may not strike another person as modest at all. What may seem neutral to one person may seem rude to another.

The point is that we should be very careful about passing on our ideolectal value judgments to those whose native language isn't our own.

So why have I gone into this little lecture? Simply because I don't see any of what you mentioned as being necessarily true or relevant, Jerry. It's so much nicer to keep things simple and clear. Native English speakers will interchange using or not using a in the phrase Thatguy asked about without giving it any deep thought at all, "IMO."

I'm not alone in seeing such small differences:

Pretty much the same, but...

Without the article, the emphasis is that you belong to the homogenous body of the group and not on your role as an individual in the group. You need the article to be able to say "an vital part" or "an important part", e.g. I am not a vital part of the group but I am still a part.

Last edited by Marius Hancu
Please view the definitions of 'part' as a noun from the LDOCE:


'Part of' and 'a part of' in the example sentences have the same meaning.

a) I am proud to be a part of a group that...
b) I am proud to be part of a group that...

Now, here is the difference described in the Collins COBUILD*:

A part’ is a singular count noun:

• A part of something is one of the pieces, sections, or elements that it consists of. I like that part of Cape Town…Respect is a very important part of an relationship.

Part is a noncount noun:

• If something or someone is part of a group or organization, they belong to it or are included in it. …voting on whether to remain part of the Union or become independent.,

If there is any distinction at all in terms of meaning, it is that ‘a part of’ is close in meaning to ‘a piece of’ -- a discrete piece with distinct borders, whereas ‘part of’ might refer to a more diffuse piece. The meanings seem to have nothing to do with the importance or lack of importance of the part.

Now, as you can see, ‘a part of’ something and ‘part of ‘ something can often be used interchangeably, and can certainly be used interchangeably in Thatguy’s sentences.
*Collins COBUILD English Dictionary. Harper Collins 1995
Last edited by Rachel, Moderator

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