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policy or prinicple

I am often asked the question, “What is the difference between “policy” and “principle?”

First, let’s look at the word “principle.”  When we say,”There is a principle,” we are saying, “There is a basic truth that guides belief or behavior.”  We all believe in gravity.  If I drop my pen a hundred times, it will go down a hundred times.  Why?  There is a principle we call gravity that controls what the pen does. Other principles control health, learning, relationships, and basically all aspects of life.

“Policy” on the other hand is like a “principle,” but it is not a basic truth.  It is a rule that is proposed and enacted by an organization, a government, a family, or even an individual. It is a rule that a group agrees will control their behavior.  A company may have policies that control the hiring and maintaining of workers, or how customer complaints are handled.  A government has policies on how taxes are collected. A university has policies on what students can do and what they cannot do.

Richard Carrigan

Richard Carrigan has been an educator for over 30 years. He has experience teaching professional and academic English. He earned his graduate degree from Shenandoah University.

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