Is the head of your school your ‘principal’ or ‘principle’? And what’s the difference between these words? We’ll cover that in this article, plus you’ll learn how to use both in a sentence correctly.
The short answer is that ‘principal’ means main or primary, but it also could mean the principal of a school.
‘Principle’ is a noun that means a rule, tenet, or basic truth. It can be used as both a noun and an adjective.
So, you just learned that the difference between ‘principle’ and ‘principal’ is that the former means a rule, tenet, or basic truth, and the latter means ‘main’ or ‘primary.’
These two words are not interchangeable. They're homophones, which means they sound the same but mean two totally different things.
It can be tricky trying to remember which one is which, but remember that ‘principle’ and ‘rule’ end in the same letters. Also, if you think about the ‘principal’ as your pal, that can help you remember too.
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘principal’ is: “most important, consequential, or influential: chief” and “of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal.”
As a noun, it means: “a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: such as a chief or head man or woman, the chief executive officer of an educational institution, one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction (specifically the person from whom an agent’s authority derives, the chief or an actual participant in a crime, the person primarily or ultimately liable on a legal obligation, or a leading performer: star,” “a matter or thing of primary importance,” “a capital sum earning interest, due as debt, or used as a fund,” “the corpus of an estate, portion, devise, or bequest,” “the construction that gives shape and strength to a roof and is usually one of several trusses,” and “broadly: the most important member of a piece of framing.”
A few synonyms of the word include:
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘principle’ is: “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption,” “a rule or code of conduct,” “habitual devotion to right principles,” “the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device,” “a primary source: origin,” “an underlying faculty or endowment,” “an ingredient (such as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality,” “a divine principle: god.”
Synonyms of the word include:
Now that we know what both words mean let’s see how to use them in a sentence correctly. We’ll start with ‘principal.’ Take a look at some examples.
Now, let’s see some examples of how to use ‘principle’ correctly in a sentence.
Now that we know what both words mean, you can confidently use them in your writing. If you ever get stuck and forget, just remember the rules: the ‘principal’ is your pal, and the ‘principle’ and rule both end in ‘le.’
If that doesn’t stick in your head, just bookmark this page and come back whenever you need to. We’ve also got a ton of other content on confusing words and phrases. Go check out our library.