Emigrate vs. Immigrate: What’s the Difference?
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Emigrate vs. Immigrate: What's the Difference? Image

Although the difference between emigrate and immigrate seems pretty subtle, both in terms of their spelling and respective definitions, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

While many people use immigrate and emigrate interchangeably, the words refer to two different groups of people: those who are coming, and those who are going.

Meaning of Emigrate

To emigrate is to leave one place, such as one’s home country. As such, we say that a person emigrated from a certain country to arrive in another.

When economists or world leaders talk about issues of emigration, they’re talking about the people leaving a certain country, not arriving to another.

For example, beginning around 1880, there was a large scale emigration of Italians from Italy.

Notice that I don’t even need to mention where they were going, because emigration simply refers to the act of leaving—it’s not concerned with the destination.

Meaning of Immigrate

To immigrate, on the other hand, is to arrive and settle in a country that is not your country of birth.

Therefore, immigrants immigrate to another country. Their country of origin is where they emigrated from.

When economists or world leaders talk about issues of immigration, they’re primarily concerned with the people arriving to a country.

Emigrate in a Sentence

Below are several examples of emigrate or emigration in a sentence:

  • Increased violence has caused many people to emigrate from their home countries.
  • Increased emigration of the country’s educated youth has led to stagnated growth.
  • He emigrated from Norway in order to be closer to his girlfriend.
  • My neighbor emigrated here from Canada.
  • Sofia Vergara emigrated from Colombia to the United States.

Immigrate in a Sentence

Below are several examples of immigrate in a sentence:

  • My great-grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s.
  • Better opportunities inspire many people to immigrate to the United States.
  • People immigrate to other countries for many reasons, but they usually expect a better life in their new country.
  • Melania Trump immigrated to the United States from Slovenia.
  • The current unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is causing many people to immigrate to Europe.

Emigrant vs Immigrant

Emigrant and immigrant can both technically be applied to the same person, as both describe a person who has left their home country to live in another.

However, the difference is that emigrant places emphasis on the idea of the person leaving, while immigrant is usually applied once the person has arrived.

Emigrate vs. Immigrate: How to Remember the Difference

One helpful way to remember the difference between emigrate and immigrate is that emigrate starts with an ‘e,’ as in “exit,” while immigrate starts with an ‘i,’ as in “into.”

Thus, to emigrate is to exit a country, while to immigrate is to enter into another. Now that you know the difference, you can avoid this common error in your writing.

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!


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Emigrate vs. Immigrate: What’s the Difference?
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