Principal vs Principle
As principal and principle are two words that are very annoying for students of English language as these are encountered quite often, one should pay attention to understanding the difference between principal and principle. Similar sounding, the only difference is in the use of letter a and e which makes all the difference as their meanings change completely and so does their usage. This is why many students make the mistake of using them incorrectly. This article intends to make the meanings of principal and principle clear once and for all. So, let us pay close attention to what each word means.
What does Principal mean?
To differentiate between principal and principle, kids are taught to remember the sentence ‘principal is my pal’ so that they always use this spelling when referring to the principal. Principal is a noun that means the chief person. However, this mnemonic device forgets that principal is also an adjective when it is used to mean main, chief or most important as in the following sentence.
The principal reason behind my success was regular studies.
Thus, principal can act both as a noun, when referring to a person, or as an adjective when it means central or most important.
Principal is used for persons or objects that are physical and can be seen like a principal of a school, principal engineer, or principal pillars of a building.
Moreover, the origin of the word principal is found in Middle English. Apart from this information, it should be mentioned that there are a number of phrases in English language that use the word principal. However, this is with regard to the field of Law. For example, principal in the first degree (“a person who directly perpetrates a crime”), principal in the second degree (“a person who directly aids the perpetration of a crime”).
What does Principle mean?
On the other hand, principle can never be an adjective, and it is only a noun. It only means a law or a concept or a code of conduct. It is often used in plural form (as in principles, such as moral principles). It is just the sound that is similar, otherwise the words principal and principle are poles apart.
Unlike principal that is used for persons or objects that are physical and can be seen, principle is used for things that are abstract in nature such as the working principle behind a phenomenon or a device. Principles in life are laws that people make for themselves and follow.
Moreover, the origin of principle is found in Late Middle English from the Old French.
What is the difference between Principal and Principle?
• While both principal and principle are similar sounding, they are totally different in meaning.
• Principal refers to the most important or chief person or thing whereas principle refers to a basic law or concept.
• Principle is always a noun whereas principal can be both a noun as well as an adjective.
• Principal is also used to refer to amount of money.
• Principles in life are laws that people make for themselves and follow.
- Summit High School (NJ, USA) Principal, Paul Sears via Wikicommons (Public Domain)