Principle or principal?

Here are two more words that sound exactly the same but have different meanings.

A principle (noun) is a firm belief that someone has about something, or a rule about the way that something works:

  • It is against my principles to borrow money.
  • Jet engines work on the principle that hot gases expand.

A principal (noun) is the head of a college or school:

  • I hear that our principal is going to resign.

(You probably know that “pal” means “friend”. So one easy way to remember this one is to think of “my pal the principal“.)

Principal (adjective) means”main” or “primary”:

  • My principal objective is to complete my studies.

By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub May 2008
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.


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