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It is important to remember this principle.

Can the above sentence be changed to the sentence below? Do they mean the same thing?

This principle is important to remember.

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They both would be understood, and in everyday conversation I think we'd hear both.

However the second is a little inelegant. We hear

  This principle is important.

so we think "important" is attached to principle, if the sentence stopped there it could be complete. But then the sentence continues and we realise that important is attached to "to remember", it's the remembering that is important. So we have to re-parse the structure to understand fully.

In written work I would strongly recommend the use of the first sentence.

The second sentence is the sort of thing we come up with when extemporising speach, our chain of thought starts with "the principle."

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