personal and personnel

Personal means private or individual.

Personnel means staff or workforce.

Personal and Personnel

The words personal and personnel sound fairly similar and both derive from the Latin word personalis (meaning personal). However, their meanings are quite different. (Of note, personal is stressed on the first syllable, and personnel is stressed on the last syllable.)


The word personal is most commonly seen as an adjective. Generally, it will mean something like private or individual. Here are some more nuanced meanings:

Affecting or belonging to a specific person (as opposed to someone else): Done by or involving a specific person: Concerning a specific person's private life or character: Relating to a person's body: The word personal (especially in the plural personals) is also commonly seen as a noun meaning an advertisement or message in the personal column of a newspaper. Dating adverts are examples of personals.


The word personnel is most commonly seen as a noun. Personnel is similar in meaning to staff (i.e., it denotes the people employed in an organisation, business, or service). The word personnel can also be used as an adjective.

A Quick Test


Let the single n of personal remind you it's about one person (i.e., private or individual).

Let the double n of personnel remind you it's about more than one person (i.e., staff or the workforce).

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See Also

Immoral and amoral What are nouns? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words