‘Principal’ or ‘principle’?

The words principle and principal are pronounced in the same way but they do not have the same meaning. Principle is normally used as a noun meaning ‘a fundamental basis of a system of thought or belief’, as in:

This is one of the basic principles of democracy.

Principal, on the other hand, is normally an adjective meaning ‘main or most important’, as in:

One of the country’s principal cities.

Principal can also be a noun, where it is used to refer to the most senior or most important person in an organization or other group, such as ‘the deputy principal’.

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Grammar and usage