The Distinction Between Personal vs. Personnel

March 13, 2024

The Difference Between Personal vs. Personnel

Personal and personnel are two words that are often confused due to their similar spellings but have very different meanings. Understanding the distinction between these two words is crucial for effective communication. Let’s delve into the history, definitions, usage, and a trick to remember the difference between personal and personnel.


History: The word “personal” originates from the late Middle English period, derived from the Latin word “persona,” meaning “actor’s mask or character.”

How to Use: “Personal” is an adjective that refers to something concerning or belonging to a particular person.

Examples of Using “Personal”:

  1. It’s not professional to ask such personal questions during an interview.
  2. My personal opinion is that we should pursue this project.
  3. She values her personal space and dislikes crowded places.
  4. Please keep your opinions on the matter personal for now.
  5. This diary contains his personal thoughts and reflections.


History: “Personnel” entered the English language in the early 19th century, borrowed directly from French.

How to Use: “Personnel” is a noun used to refer to the group of people employed in an organization or department.

Examples of Using “Personnel”:

  1. The company is updating its personnel policies for the new fiscal year.
  2. Our personnel department is responsible for hiring new employees.
  3. She was promoted to head of personnel last month.
  4. It’s important to provide adequate training for all personnel.
  5. The personnel at the event ensured everything ran smoothly.

Trick to Remember the Difference:

Remember that “personal” relates to individuals and their characteristics, while “personnel” refers to employees or staff members within an organization.


Personal: Adjective pertaining to an individual’s private thoughts, feelings, or belongings.

Personnel: Noun representing the employees or staff members of an organization or department.

By understanding the distinctions outlined above and practicing with example sentences, you can confidently differentiate between “personal” and “personnel” in your writing and conversations.