Condemnation is a very specific action taken by the government to trigger the taking of a piece of land for eminent domain. Condemnation is the formal legal action that is filed to start the process of taking your land. Usually, you are given notice and money is deposited with the court to repay you for your property. However, if you find that the government has started using or damaging your property without giving you any notice or any compensation, you may find yourself in the usual position of asking the government to “condemn” your property.
Inverse condemnation can happen when the government or some other condemnor (like a municipality or utility company) performs a project that affects your property without paying you for your property first or filing the right eminent domain proceedings. Seeking an inverse condemnation involves arguing that the government may not have entered or used your property, but their activity around or near your property has completely devalued your land. You want to force the state to buy the property from you.
You may find yourself in this position if you are on the edge of a construction project. Technically, none of your land was needed, but now it is being flooded, or your property value (or property based income) is suffering because of the work. Other examples include local regulations that force the closure of a business or construction company personnel using your land for parking or other activities without permission.