Emigrate or Immigrate?

by Craig Shrives

Emigrate or Immigrate?

What is the difference between "emigrate" and "immigrate"?
  • "Emigrate" means to leave one country and settle in another.
  • ("Emigrate" focuses on the point of departure.)
  • "Immigrate" means to enter a new country with the purpose of staying there.
  • ("Immigrate" focuses on the point of arrival.)
emigrate or immigrate?

More about "Emigrate" and "Immigrate"

"To emigrate" and "to immigrate" are similar in meaning, but there is a difference. "To emigrate" focuses on the point of departure, while "to immigrate" focuses on the point of arrival. For example:
  • I emigrated to England in the 1990s.
  • ("I left my homeland in the 1990s.")
  • I immigrated to England in the 1990s.
  • ("I've been living in England since the 1990s.")

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between emigrate and immigrate:

Emigrate

The verb "to emigrate" focuses on "leaving" your home country to move permanently to another.

Examples:
  • People say there's no quality of life in Russia, and everyone wants to emigrate.
  • Very few inhabitants emigrate from this province, where the birth-rate considerably exceeds the death-rate.
  • It is foolish to claim, as some do, that emigration into space offers a long-term escape from Earth's problems. Nowhere in our solar system offers an environment even as clement as the Antarctic or the top of Everest. (Cosmologist Martin Rees)
  • ("Emigration" is the noun from the verb "to emigrate.")

Immigrate

The verb "to immigrate" means to move to a new country with the purpose of settling there. "Immigrate" focuses on "entering" the new country.

Examples:
  • New Zealanders who immigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries. (New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon)
  • Immigration is one of the leading contributors to population growth. (Conservationist Paul Watson)
  • ("Immigration" is the noun from the verb "to immigrate.")

Remember Emigrate and Immigrate

With "emigrate" think "exit" or "export."
With "immigrate" think "in" or "import."

Emigrate and Immigrate Are Often Interchangeable

The words "emigrate" and "immigrate" are often interchangeable. For example:
  • Sarah emigrated to England from Australia.
  • (This focuses on Sarah leaving Australia.)
  • Sarah immigrated to England from Australia.
  • (This focuses on Sarah arriving in England and, without further context, suggests the speaker is located in England.)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words