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Control vs. Check: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 3, 2023
Control is to exercise restraint or direction over; check is to stop, examine, or verify.

Key Differences

Control is about exercising authoritative or regulatory influence over something or someone. It suggests a power dynamic where one entity manipulates or directs another. On the other hand, to check is to stop or contain something, often as a preventative measure. This action involves reviewing or inspecting to ensure correctness or to halt progress.
Control implies ongoing oversight and the ability to manipulate outcomes. For instance, controlling a company involves managing all its operations. To check something, like in a quality check, means to ensure it meets certain standards or to halt an action temporarily for inspection. The check is often a part of a control process but is not comprehensive in its governance.
The term control can denote domination or command over mechanisms, processes, or organizations. It often involves setting policies or protocols. Checking, however, is more about verification or restraint. A software engineer, for instance, controls the development process but checks the code for errors.
In the psychological context, control refers to self-regulation or mastery over one's emotions or actions. Alternatively, a reality check involves an assessment to bring someone back to the practicality of a situation. Control is internal and extensive, while a check is often external and specific.
Control can have a broader, sometimes abstract, connotation, such as controlling one’s destiny. To check can also mean to mark something for attention or action, like checking a box. Both involve actions of influence, but control is usually more comprehensive, while checking is an act within controlled parameters.

Comparison Chart

Word Class

Noun and Verb
Noun and Verb


Dominance, management, regulation
Verification, examination, halt

Tense Variation

Controls, controlling, controlled
Checks, checking, checked

Usage in a Sequence

Can be initial or throughout
Often intermediate or final

Object of Action

Systems, people, processes
Actions, items, processes for errors

Control and Check Definitions


A standard against which other conditions can be compared in a scientific experiment.
The control group was not exposed to the treatment.


A written order directing a bank to pay money.
He wrote a check for the full amount due.


A device or mechanism used to manipulate a machine or vehicle.
He gently pulled on the control to steady the drone.


A pattern of squares or an object marked for verification or record.
She wore a dress with a red and white check.


Restraining one's impulses or emotions.
He lost control and shouted during the meeting.


A stop or pause to assess a situation or to prevent a mistake.
The system runs a check before the process starts.


The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.
The new manager quickly took control of the team.


In games like chess, a move that threatens the opposing king.
He moved his bishop, putting my king in check.


Command over an environment or system.
She maintained control over the entire operation.


To examine something in order to determine its accuracy.
Please check your work before submitting.


To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over; direct
The majority party controls the legislative agenda.


The act or an instance of inspecting or testing something, as for accuracy or quality
Gave the paper a final check.


What does it mean to check something?

To check something means to verify its correctness or to ensure it meets certain criteria.

Can control be used as both a noun and a verb?

Yes, control can be a state of command (noun) or the act of commanding (verb).

Does a check always involve stopping an action?

A check often involves pausing an action to assess or verify, but it can also mean to mark something as in a checklist.

What does it mean to 'check in' at a hotel?

To check in at a hotel means to register upon arrival and gain access to your accommodation.

How is check used in banking?

Check refers to a written document that orders a bank to pay the specified amount from the drawer's account.

What does control mean in a scientific study?

Control refers to a standard or baseline condition used for comparison in experiments.

How does one 'take control'?

Taking control means assuming authority and responsibility over a situation or system.

Is control always intentional?

Yes, control implies intentional regulation or influence over something.

Can control be involuntary?

Control is typically a conscious act, but some systems operate under involuntary or automated control.

Can you 'check' an emotion?

Yes, to check an emotion means to restrain or hold back its expression.

Is 'out of control' the opposite of 'in control'?

Yes, 'out of control' means lacking regulation or restraint, the antithesis of 'in control'.

What is a 'reality check'?

A reality check is an assessment to bring someone back to the practical realities of a situation.

Can control be delegated?

Yes, control can be delegated to others, granting them authority to manage in one's stead.

How do you 'check out' of a hotel?

To check out of a hotel means to settle your bill and leave, officially ending your stay.

What's the relationship between control and freedom?

Control can limit freedom when one entity imposes restrictions on another.

Is a 'background check' the same as control?

No, a background check is a verification process, not an exertion of control.

What does 'checkmate' mean?

Checkmate is a chess term where the opponent's king is in a position to be captured and cannot escape.

What does it mean to have 'self-control'?

Having self-control means regulating one's own actions, emotions, or desires.

Is control always a form of power?

Control generally involves power, but it can also refer to self-regulation without power over others.

What does 'check yourself' mean?

'Check yourself' is an admonition to examine or correct your own behavior before taking action.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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