It’s the principal

One of our deputy managing editors, Steve Riley, stopped by my desk the other day to point out something that he had seen in our news section recently. An Associated Press story about the sale of the Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, contained this sentence:

Payments of both interest and principle are tax-deductible and would create more leverage for a buyer.

Of course, that was the wrong spelling of “principal,” meaning the major portion of a loan.

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Steve wondered how many papers used the wrong spelling. I did a quick search today on Google News for the sentence with both spellings. Below are screen shots of the search with a sampling of the sites that still had versions of the sentence. First the wrong spelling, then the right spelling. The only thing this proves is that homonyms are tough to catch, especially deep in copy and on deadline.

grammar-principle grammar-principal

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.