Principal or Principle?

by Craig Shrives

Principal or Principle?

What is the difference between "principal" and "principle"?

"Principal" means main. For example:
  • It is my principal concern.
"A principal" is the head (of a department). For example:
  • Go and stand outside the principal's office!
"A principle" is a general law or a code of conduct. For example:
  • Apply the guiding principle at all times.
principal or principle?

Common Terms with Principal and Principle

Here are some common terms with "principal":
  • principal agent
  • principal amount
  • principal contractor
  • principal designer
  • principal dancer
  • principal focus
  • principal investor
Here are some common terms with "principle":
  • Archimedes principle
  • ethical principle
  • first principle
  • fundamental principle
  • guiding principle
  • proximity principle

A Video Summary

Watch a video summarizing this lesson principal and principle.

More about "Principal"

In its most common role, "principal" is an adjective meaning "main" or "key." For example:
  • The principal objective is to make a profit.
  • The inspector highlighted my principal concern in his opening sentence.
The word "principal" can also be noun meaning "head" or "chief." It is commonly used to mean "head teacher." For example:
  • Here comes the principal.
  • (principal = head teacher)
  • The allegations against the former principal were that he not only allowed the cage fights to take place, but he also he encouraged the participants.

Principal and Money

When referring to a loan, the principal (or principal sum) is the original amount of a debt or investment on which interest is calculated. For example:
  • With an interest-only mortgage, the principal sum is repaid at the end.

More about "Principle"

The word principle is a noun. It has a range of meanings, including rule, belief, tenet, and theory. In general, "principle" offers the idea of "general law" or "code of conduct." For example:
  • That is a great idea in principle.
  • He applied the Aufbau principle to determine the electron configuration of the silicon.
The word "principle" often appears in the plural form "principles":
  • No! It is against my principles!
  • Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
  • You could strengthen your argument by appealing to more general principles.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words