Emigrate or Immigrate?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Emigrate" and "Immigrate"?

"Emigrate" and "immigrate" are easy to confuse because they both relate to moving from one country to another.
  • Emigrate. "Emigrate" means to leave one country and settle in another. "Emigrate" focuses on the point of departure. For example:
    • When I was five, my family emigrated from Bangladesh to America. correct tick
  • Immigrate. "Immigrate" means to enter a new country with the purpose of staying there. "Immigrate" focuses on the point of arrival. For example:
    • When I was five, my family immigrated to America from Bangladesh. correct tick
emigrate or immigrate?

More about "Emigrate" and "Immigrate"

"Emigrate" and "Immigrate" are similar in meaning, but there is a difference. "Emigrate" focuses on the point of departure, while "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:

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

Emigrate

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

Example sentences with "emigrate":
  • People say there's no quality of life in Russia, and everyone wants to emigrate. correct tick
  • Very few inhabitants emigrate from this province, where the birth-rate considerably exceeds the death-rate. correct tick
  • 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. correct tick (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.

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

Top Tip

How To 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.)

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