The words principal and principle are often confused by English speakers. Read this lesson to learn the principles of the principal meanings.
As a noun, principal can be a person, such as the head of a school or other organization, or the primary participant in a crime.
Principal can also refer to the original sum of money that has been invested.
As an adjective, principal means "primary" or "most important":
Principle is an inanimate noun that refers to natural or man-made laws and rules.
1. Rule of conduct, whether moral or institutional
2. Fundamental quality or idea, essence
The Bottom Line
Despite their similar pronunciation, principal and principle are completely different. Principal is an adjective, a person, or a sum of money, while principle is an idea. In principle, if you’re talking about someting intangible, the word you need is principle. Otherwise, your pal is principal.
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