Internal vs External – Difference Between Internal and External

Internal vs External – Difference Between Internal and External

The difference between internal and external is that anything internal is on the inside of something, whereas anything external is on the outside of something.

The two concepts at the base of our discussion today are exactly contradictory to each other. They signify the antonyms of the other one. Folks come across words like “internal conflicts” or “external conflicts.” They hear about “internal injury” and “external damage.” Then, they wonder what does internal and external mean?

And how do we specifically define them enough to be able to completely set the two terms apart from one another?

The internal and external meaning variations are actually very easy to understand when you dive a little further into the details behind them, and we are confident that after reading through today’s post you will feel completely at ease about separating them from one another in the future.

Without further discussion, let’s dive into the main difference between internal and external by analyzing their individual definitions.

Definition of External – What Does External Mean?

The definition of external is something that is on the outside of something else.

This terminology and definition can apply to numerous areas of study and living. It can refer to external examinations and may relate to distinct references in a conversation too.

Ultimately, the fundamental difference between internal and external lies in the fact that any object that resides within the confines of these two descriptions is located either within or on the outside of something else.

For instance, when comparing an internal vs external examination, we can summarize an internal examination by saying that it would occur within the structure of a company using its own staff members.

An external examination however would take place using staff members that had come in from an external company to carry out an independent examination.

The reason why these staff members would be classed as external is that they came from outside of the company.

We will shortly observe more examples that highlight the variations between internal vs external, but you should finally be starting to form a picture about how the two differ based on the information we have provided up to now.

Definition of Internal – What Does Internal Mean?

The definition of internal is something that is on the inside of something else.

You will have heard of internal conflicts or mechanisms, but what do these mean? And what is the difference between internal and external when we are referring to terms like these that form a standard part of our everyday language?  

When we address something as internal, we are implying it to be within an interior region. It quite literally means a thing happening within something else. This is how we can easily tell external and internal apart from one another.

Contrarily, the former relates to things being situated or events occurring on the outside of something else, rather than within it. It implies that some other factor from the outside is involved. Doing something externally indicates that the object or the occurrence is at the innate surface level.

Let’s discuss more about the difference between external and internal by looking at an example. Taking a scientific point of view, tests are held in scientific laboratories. They can either be conducted by people who work for an organization or someone who works on the outside of it.

An internal test implies that all testing, as well as the results analysis, will be done within the institution. It will not involve any external or outside authorities.

Contrarily, external tests are organized and conducted by external companies, and the test results are checked by scientists who do not belong to the same institution. This helps differentiate the variations between external and internal effectively.

Some additional examples that will help you to gain a deeper understanding of internal or external can be found in the next section. Let’s take a look.

Internal and External Examples

  • External Examples

Usually in medicine, a warning such as “for external use only” is written on certain labels. The meaning of this sentence is that the medicine or ointment you are applying must be used only on the surface of your skin and cannot be used inside the body.

Another example of how we can set external vs internal apart can be in relation to an outside force, indicating an additional effort was required to move an object. While performing an experiment, if we see or hear the term “external factor must be constant,” this relates to the outside environment.

  • Internal examples

The examples for this section may include instances where any country develops or improves its governing policies. This is called a change of the internal policies, implying that within the state the government policies have been altered.

You might have heard of internal head injuries or internal bleeding. When a doctor says that there is internal damage, he or she means to imply that the injury is within the surface of the patient’s body.

Different sentences indicate the different purposes of the usage of these terms. Yet the meaning remains unchanged. Both the above terms mean “inside” and “outside” respectively when used in variegated references.

What Is Main the Difference Between External and Internal?

A comparison table that clearly displays the difference between internal and external is shown below.

Basis of Comparison Internal External
Refers to Interior or something within External or something outside
Synonyms Inner, inside, interior Outer, outside, exterior
In relation to a surfaceBeneath the surfaceOn or above the surface
In languageTo speak inwardly to oneselfTo speak outwardly to another person
VisibilityConcealed or hiddenHighly visible and exposed
Example Rebecca had an internal head injury Ken had no external symptoms of illness for a couple of days.

We will now provide you with a FAQ that further helps to separate internal or external from one another.

Internal and External Difference – FAQ

What is the difference between external vs internal customers?

An external customer is somebody who buys goods or services from your company from the outside of your organization, whereas an internal customer would be an employee or stakeholder because they already belong to your company.

Please tell me, what is internal and external when it comes to exams?

An internal examination is carried out by somebody who is employed by the same organization that is being examined, while an external examination is carried out by somebody who is employed by an organization from the outside of the organization that is being examined.

So, what does external and internal mean? What is the difference between them?

The difference between these two words is that anything that is external is located on the outside of something else, whereas anything that is internal is located on the inside of something and does not involve any input from the outside.

So What Is Internal and External? – Conclusion

You should now finally understand how the words internal and external are appropriately employed. Both of these words are used commonly as adjectives. They support the word that follows each of them.

These words are antonyms to each other. The former means being confined to a limited area. The latter on the other hand is not something that has a predetermined or limited scope. In addition to the word internal, its synonyms like “inside,” “interior,” or “inner” are used. Similarly, in the place of external, “outer,” “outside,” or “exterior” are employed.

This pair of terminologies can be used as adjectives for different areas of spoken English. Hopefully, the external and internal definitions and the difference between external and internal have been effectively summarized over the course of this post today.

If you ever need a refresher on the summary of each word, simply head back to our quick reference table for a quick overview.