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Word comparisons

Note 149 – Principal and principle

Although principal and principle are pronounced the same, they have very different meanings.  Oxford Dictionaries online defines the noun principal as “the most important or senior person in an organisation or group”; however, it is a common error to forget that principal can also be an adjective meaning “main” or “first in order of importance”.  Here are some examples:

  • He is the principal character in the film (principal as an adjective)
  • Our next door neighbour David is the principal of the local school (principal as a noun)

As written in the usage section of the Oxford Dictionaries online the word principle is normally used as a noun meaning “a fundamental basis of a system of thought or belief”.  Here are some examples:

  • Jack had not received a payrise for two years, so he left the company as a matter of principle.
  • Sheila had to apply the accounting principles when preparing the company accounts.

To recap: principal can be a noun or an adjective, whereas principle is used as a noun.

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Until tomorrow…


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Reference list:

Oxford Dictionaries online


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer


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