Principal or principle?

Ask the wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

Principle or principal?

These two words sound the same, but they have different meanings. Sometimes people, even people who have this word as part of their job title, mix them up! So let’s clear up the confusion!

Principle is a noun. It’s an idea or belief on which a system of thought is based. For example, we can talk about the basic principles of democracy. If something goes against your principles, it goes against your values or beliefs.

Principal is usually an adjective, which basically means main (such as the principal cities in an area), or a noun when it’s referring to the most senior person in an institution, such as a school.

You can be the principal of a school, but if you call yourself a principle, you’re basically calling yourself an idea, which doesn’t work!

More articles in this series

If you want to read the rest of the articles in this series, go to the wise old owl’s main page.

If you want to find out about more words which sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings, check out this podcast episode.

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