principal and principle - the difference
The Quick AnswerPrincipal means main.
A principal is the head (of a department).
Principle means general law or code of conduct.
Writers occasionally confuse the words principal and principle.
PrincipalIn its most common role, principal is an adjective meaning main or key.
- The principal objective is to make a profit. (The adjective principal modifies the noun objective.)
- The inspector highlighted my principal concern in his opening sentence. (principal = main or key)
(principal = main or key)
- 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 egged on the participants.
PrincipleThe 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.
- No! It is against my principles!
- That is a great idea in principle.
- Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others. (Groucho Marx quote)
- You could
strengthen your argument by appealing to more general
- He applied the Aufbau principal to determine the electron configuration of the silicon. (should be principle / principle = theory or general law)
Interactive ExerciseHere 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 Alsoadverse 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? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words