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This question is an exact duplicate of:

What's the difference between rules and principles? For example, which one is the better fit in the following context?

Strict __ govern the clothes we wear.

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marked as duplicate by TrevorD, Matt Эллен, aedia λ, tchrist, choster Sep 4 '13 at 13:35

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I would use rules because of the "strict rules", but without strict, I think you can use either - Google NGRAM –  mplungjan Sep 3 '13 at 7:45
    
Principles can only be 'principles,' there can be no 'strict principles.' –  Kris Sep 4 '13 at 10:23

2 Answers 2

A principle is a sort of rule, but more to govern personal behaviour. Think of it as a personal rule, one that shouldn't affect other people. A rule is generally imposed by a figure of authority, and used to guide and govern people. So in the above sentence, it would be:

Strict rules govern the clothes we wear

Because it is being imposed by someone else. If someone were to say:

That goes against my principles.

That would mean that they felt you were breaking one of their personal rules, or perhaps asking them to break a personal rule.

I hope this answers your question.

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Thank you very much! I really appreciated. –  Diansonn Sep 3 '13 at 8:00

Rules state what is legally or procedurally correct, whereas principles state what is morally or intrinsically correct.

To address your specific example,

Strict rules govern the clothes we wear

because "strict" and "govern" both imply that an dress code is being enforced, or some fashion conventions should be adhered to (e.g., "Don't wear white after Labor Day" or "Don't wear fur or leather to a courtroom").

In contrast, you might say,

Her principles forbid her from wearing fur or leather

The difference there is that the restriction is self imposed.

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Hm... I would think so, as well. However, one can be strict with oneself in the matter of principles, too -- some are, some may not be. –  Kris Sep 4 '13 at 10:24
    
@Kris But you wouldn't use the word govern when talking about self-discipline. –  200_success Sep 4 '13 at 17:59

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