Can I use "inspect" in this sentence instead of "control"?

The police controlled the crowd.

And also, can I use "control" in this sentence instead of "inspect"?

Police inspected the scene.

Are they synonyms or not?

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    Have you looked the 2 words up in dictionary? If you have why do you think they might or might not be synonyms? – Nigel Harper Jun 20 '14 at 10:48
  • yes. I saw them – user3731 Jun 20 '14 at 10:50
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    So if you've seen the definitions what makes you think they might be synonyms and why do you think you might be able to use them interchangeably? – Nigel Harper Jun 20 '14 at 11:06
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    I think this question would be good for learners to be kept for further reference. Oerkelens is right in some languages control has a similar meaning to inspect or check and I would add to verify. I even add a +1 – Lucian Sava Jun 20 '14 at 12:42
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    @IceGirl, I'm trying to understand why the following is difficult for you: Nigel Harper asked you "If you have, why do you think they might or might not be synonynms?" Why didn't you answer that? Also, do you now understand that the problem appears to be that in your native language these words mean the same, but in English they have different meanings (called "False Friends")? That's 2 Questions for you. We appreciate complete and detailed answers in comments -- it's the only way we can help you. – CoolHandLouis Jun 20 '14 at 23:07

No, in English those two words are very different in meaning. In some languages, control has a similar meaning to inspect, verify or check, but in English, control in this case only means to exercise control.

The police controlled the crowd.

Means that they made the people do what they (the police) wanted them to do.

The police inspected the scene.

Means that they investigated the place.

As you see, the meaning is completely different. You could use one verb instead of the other, but the meaning would be completely different.

  • Yes, control might be a false friend in some languages. +1 – Lucian Sava Jun 20 '14 at 12:48
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    I've opened meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/1075/… to discuss this. – CoolHandLouis Jun 20 '14 at 21:20
  • The only exception in English that I can think of is "Passport control", where "control" does mean "inspect". Other than that, you're right: "control" always means "exercise authority over" and never "inspect". – 200_success Jun 21 '14 at 2:53
  • @200_success: Even then, the implication is "exercising authority". They control who gets through, based on inspecting their passports. – Tim Pederick Jun 21 '14 at 6:45
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    Oh, "quality control" is also a kind of inspection. – 200_success Jun 21 '14 at 7:09

"Control" and "Inspect" are clearly not synonyms.


to order, limit, or rule something, or someone's actions or behaviour:

  If you can't control your dog, put it on a lead!
  You're going to have to learn to control your temper.


to look at something or someone carefully in order to discover information, especially about their quality or condition:

  After the crash both drivers got out and inspected their cars for damage.
  She held the bank note up to the light and inspected it carefully.

(Source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

In your sentences control and inspect are clearly not interchangeable. The sentences are fine as they are.

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