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principle or principal

Question: What is the difference between principle and principal?

We use the word principle when we talk about a fundamental, or basic truth.  It generally refers to natural laws; the way things operate.

  • The more we understand the principles (n) of language learning, the better we learn a language.
  • The more we live by the principles (n) of health, the healthier we become.
  • Students learn about the principles (n) of gravity in school.
  • He is a man of principles (Someone who is generally morally correct).

We use the word principal when we talk about something or someone first in importance.

  • The person in authority at a school is referred to as the principal (n).
  • The most important resources of a country are referred to as the principal (adj) resources.

The word principal (n) is also used to refer to money we owe to a bank and pay interest on.

  • If we pay extra money every month on our loan, it goes toward the principal.

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