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Principal and principle - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Principal and principle - Mixed messages and misused words from A to Z

Principalities may not fall over the misuse of principal and principle, but pretty good writers may predict which word to choose.

Principal, used as an adjective or a noun, refers to a high level of importance or influence. That’s why the head of a school may be titled the principal. He or she may be the prince or princess of the school, if one counts the superintendent as king. Well, that may be stretching the principles of royal title usage a bit.

Principle, which also may be used as either noun or adjective, points to rules, standards, or shared beliefs.

Consider how principal and principle may be used in this example.

Rebuking the spitball-tossing student, the principal said, “It’s the principle of the thing. Spitballs are principally prohibited by the PTA.”

(Careful readers will note how the adverbial form of principle looks a lot more like principal. If you are confused, stop in at your local school, and ask the principal how this principle applies.)

Misused word pair
Created by this user
At CoolText
 Abused and misused word graphics
adapted from public domain artwork

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  1. Ha. The principal may be able to define the difference, and then again, he might not. Thanks for the neat post. Best regards to you. Ruby.

  2. Our principal had principles. Good one!

  3. When I was little my way of not mixing these up was principal - person hence pal. Nice one.

  4. nice to find your site
    words sure can throw even a seasoned writer

    nice to meet you thru A to Z


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