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Writing Tips has been archived and won’t be updated before it is permanently deleted.

For the most up-to-date content, please consult Writing Tips Plus, which combines content from Writing Tips and The Canadian Style. And don’t forget to update your bookmarks!

To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

principal, principle

Principal is an adjective meaning “chief” or “leading.”

  • The principal element in the group’s strategy was surprise.
  • Lorne Kennedy played the principal character in the comedy Present Laughter.

Principal is also a noun indicating a person in authority or a sum of money, usually a loan.

  • The high school principal supported the policy against bullying.
  • The monthly mortgage payment includes principal, interest and taxes.

Principle, which can be used only as a noun, refers to a universal law or rule of conduct.

  • According to the uncertainty principle, one alters subatomic particles simply by observing them.
  • Hilary has very high principles; she never lies, steals or gossips.