Learn the difference between Principle and Principal

by Virupakshi
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difference between principle and principal

The English language is one of the most confusing and perplexing languages known to humankind. There are so many words that look the same but mean a different thing (they are called homonyms) that we sometimes use one word for the other word. One such stark example is principle and principal (these two words are homophones, a type of homonyms). Today, we will discuss the difference between principle and principal, along with their definitions and examples. Let us begin.

Definition and Examples of Principle

The word principle is a noun. It means a basic or fundamental rule or the source of origin.

The rule may be a basic one or a scientific one or even a created standard.

Example 1: Neil is a person with high moral principles.

Here the moral principles are more or less created or adopted by our society. We all are expected to follow and behave following this created or selected set of rules.

Example 2: The three laws of motion were published in Isaac Newton‘s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.

It is also used for a scientific law. Most of the objects follow the principles in most of the situations.

Example 3: We should stick to our principles and not run behind fame or money.

Copper is an active principle in some of the medical devices related to the female reproductive system. Principle here is used to mean an essential element or constituent that produces a particular effect.

Other examples:

One of the essential business principles is to put customers’ interests ahead of ours.

She ate oats as evening snack every day on principle.

Now that we understood what principle means and how to use it in sentences let us learn the definition of principal.

English language

Definition and Examples of Principal

Principal is a noun or an adjective depending on the sentence. When used as a noun, it means the most important person or thing of a group.

Example 1: The principal of the school is very strict.

Here we are referring to the head of the school.

Other examples:

The principal of the company gave a bonus to every employee.

The principal of the college is retiring this month.

Principal as an adjective means first in order of preference or highest in rank. It also means the amount of money that a person borrowed from someone.

Example 1: Tim was appointed as the principal engineer in the company.

Here Tim was made the head of all engineers in the company.

Example 2: The performance of the principal of the choir was flawless.

Example 3: Harry had to pay the 10% interest on the principal every month.

Here the principal refers to the money borrowed by Harry.

Example 4: The company employees were given a bonus as the company paid the principal to the bank after two years.

Other examples:

Principal crops of India are rice, maize, wheat, and millet.

The witness is helping the sketch to the artist to sketch the principal suspect.

If you don’t pay the principal in the stipulated time, you may face the consequences.

Bob successfully paid the principal along with interest in just six months.

Potatoes are the principal ingredient of the mashed potatoes recipe.

Now we know what these words mean and understood how to use the two words in sentences. We come to the differences between principle and principal.

Principle is the fundamental truth. It also means the source of someone or something, whereas principal is either the amount of money borrowed or the highest rank or the most important person or thing in a group.

One easy way not to get confused is to remember this sentence (at least it helped me know which word to use)

“The principal of my school is like a pal to every student.” Pal meaning friend. The principal being the head of the school, is like a pal (friend) to every other student in the school.

Once the principal word is sorted, the other word principle will not be that hard to remember.

So, if you have any homophones like this that you get confused with, shoot us a mail, and we will tell the difference and try to help you.

Image Credit: Envato Elements

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