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Examples of Principle and Principal

There is often confusion about the proper use of principle and principal.

  • Principle is always a noun and is a basic truth, or a rule governing behavior.
  • Principal can be a noun or adjective.

As a noun it is someone or something of primary importance or a sum of money, either invested or lent.
As an adjective means the first or highest in importance.

Principle Used in a Sentence

  • He was a man of principle and good to his word.
  • All internal combustion engines work on the same principles.
  • The ambassador refused on principle to agree to the terms of the accord.
  • There exist certain fundamental principles of human rights.
  • Two principles of happiness are being kind and smiling a lot.
  • Isaac Newton published his three laws of motion in his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.
  • I do not agree with the principles of that religion.
  • She ate granola every morning on principle.
  • One example of a business principle is putting the customer’s interests first.

Used In a Quote

  • “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” – Groucho Marx
  • “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “My guiding principles in life are to be honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring.” – Prince William
  • “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” – Jimmy Carter

Principal Used in a Sentence

Used as a Noun

  • The principal of the school is retiring this year.
  • First chair of the violins is the principal.
  • The principal of the firm just gave everyone a raise.
  • Mary was the principal in the television series for 10 years.
  • The theater troupe had a dinner to honor its principals.
  • Every quarter we have to pay interest on the principal.
  • The corporation’s principal was based in New York.
  • The principal of the ballet had a flawless performance.

Used as an Adjective

  • The principal element in the earth’s crust is oxygen.
  • This only applies to the principal cities in the state.
  • The principal amount of your investment should be at least $10,000.
  • Air pollution is a principal cause of respiratory ailments.
  • The president highlighted his principal concerns in his speech.
  • He is the principal cellist in the orchestra.
  • Eggs are the principal ingredient in quiche.

Used In a Quote

  • “All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.” – Samuel Butler
  • “The principal problem facing our economy today is jobs.” – Jim Sensenbrenner
  • “My father was also a principal of a school and mother was a curriculum advisor. Both were educators.” – Edwin Moses
  • “The dollar is currently the principal reserve currency in the world.” – Robert C. Solomon
  • “Here is how I work: when I think that a film needs to have a principal theme, I search for a melody.” – Michel Legrand

Now you have seen how both principal and principle are used in sentences and can better understand the difference between these two words.


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