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)
Quick TestSelect the correct version:
A1If you imagine that the l on the end of principal looks like a 1, then the last two letters become A1. This may help you to remember that principal denotes the most important or main.
- My principal concern is the safety of the dove. (my A1 concern, i.e., main concern)
- You can explain your absence to the principal. (to the A1, i.e., the most important person in the department)