The Difference between Principle and Principal

Principle and Principal are easily confused.

It doesn’t help that they are homophones, which means they sound alike. Here’s a guide to what they mean and how you can tell them apart.

Principle

The word principle means a standard, a law or a rule. This means you can have:

  • the principles of economics, which are the laws that govern economic theory
  • moral principles, which are the rules and standards that govern your behavior

Principal

The word principal usually refers to a person. Remember that it ends in ‘pal’, which is a person. A principal can be:

  • the head of a school
  • the head of an organization
  • the main person involved in a contract or financial negotiation

Putting It All Together
If you remember that principal is a person, then you can easily make sense of this sentence:

The principal taught us the first principle of social responsibility.