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? Jun 20, 2014 at 10:48
  • yes. I saw them
    – user3731
    Jun 20, 2014 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? Jun 20, 2014 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 Jun 20, 2014 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. Jun 20, 2014 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


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 Jun 20, 2014 at 12:48
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    I've opened meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/1075/… to discuss this. Jun 20, 2014 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". Jun 21, 2014 at 2:53
  • @200_success: Even then, the implication is "exercising authority". They control who gets through, based on inspecting their passports. Jun 21, 2014 at 6:45
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    Oh, "quality control" is also a kind of inspection. Jun 21, 2014 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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