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Which of inspect or control is more appropriate when referring to action checking the operational state of something?

Context: Workers are checking the operational state of a billboard with regards to its cleanliness, lighting, etc. Their sole job is to report their findings, they are not required to act on their findings.

Is the difference just cosmetic for my context, or is there some subtle difference in meaning between using inspect and control?

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closed as off-topic by TimLymington, tchrist, MετάEd, FumbleFingers, p.s.w.g Jul 13 '13 at 20:32

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – MετάEd, FumbleFingers, p.s.w.g
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What is your context? It's hard to answer the first part of your question without knowing. Also, did you look up each of these words in a dictionary? If not, perhaps you should start there. On the other hand, if you've already checked a dictionary, perhaps you should share your findings here, so we need not scurry to consult our dictionaries, lest we post something erroneous. – J.R. Jul 12 '13 at 10:26
I thought the context is clear from the question. Refining it a bit more, workers are checking the operational state of billboards (wrt lighting, cleanliness of the glass, etc.) – Kaan Jul 12 '13 at 12:42
An inspector looks; a controller acts. If they are authorized to change what they're inspecting, and they do occasionally or frequently change it, they can be said to control it. But if they are not authorized to do anything more than look, measure, and report, they are not controlling it. And if they have the authority but never use it, something else is going on. – John Lawler Jul 12 '13 at 13:10
@Kaan: "something" doesn't make for very clear context. "Something" could be an assembly line, an oil pan, a dog, a fish, an airplane, or a computer program. – J.R. Jul 12 '13 at 15:08
@J.R. thanks for the explanation. I'm editing the question with that in mind. – Kaan Jul 12 '13 at 16:10
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If they are just looking and reporting, then inspect would be the right choice.

If they are also making repairs, adjustments, cleaning, etc, this might be termed maintain, or maybe specified more precisely.

Control would more usually describe the continuous adjustment of the object's state during normal operation.

However, in some other languages, the equivalent of control is used to mean what we call inspect, so take care if your document is to be read by people from other language cultures.

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