Emigrate vs. Immigrate – How To Distinguish These Terms

23.11.23 Commonly confused words Time to read: 5min

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When writing an academic paper, you may often find commonly confused words. It’s crucial to understand the difference between “emigrate” and “immigrate” early on in your academic writing endeavour s. Confusion between these two words, which have similar spellings but different meanings, can negatively impact the quality of your writing. Clarity and precision are essential in effectively conveying arguments in academic writing.

Definition of “emigrate vs. immigrate”

Although “emigrate” and “immigrate” have similar spellings, they represent some of the most frequently confused words in academic writing. While “emigrate” refers to leaving your country of origin to live someplace else, “immigrate” means to live in a country that is not your country of origin.

Emigrate

… is a verb that means to leave one’s country and settle in another.

Immigrate

… is a verb that means to enter and live in a foreign country permanently.

Focusing on the context is incredibly important when using and differentiating between these two words. If you would like to say that somebody leaves their country to live in another, you use “emigrate.” However, if you’re referring to somebody who wants to live in another country that is not their own, you use “immigrate.”

Using the word “emigrate”

The word “emigrate” is only used as a verb. This will be outlined in the following.

“Emigrate” as a verb

The word “to emigrate” functions grammatically as a verb. It refers to the action of leaving one’s own country or place of residence to permanently settle in another country or location. Essentially, “to emigrate” describes the act of departing from one’s home country or place of origin to live in a different country.

Examples

  • Many people emigrate from war-torn regions to seek safety in other countries.
  • My grandparents emigrated from Italy to the US, searching for new opportunities.
  • She decided to emigrate from Canada to join her family in the United States.

Tip for using “emigrate” correctly

Including synonyms for “emigrate” can enhance writing, prevent redundancy, and add nuance. Here are four alternatives with sample sentences.

Synonyms Examples
Migrate People from rural areas often emigrate from there for employment opportunities.
People from rural areas often migrate from there for employment opportunities.
Move He decided to emigrate from Australia to be closer to his relatives.
He decided to move from Australia to be closer to his relatives.
Relocate After the earthquake, many families had to emigrate for safety.
After the earthquake, many families had to relocate for safety.
Settle Many British people would like to emigrate to live in Australia.
Many British people would like to settle in Australia.

Using the word “immigrate”

The word “immigrate” is only used as a verb. This grammatical function will be outlined in the following.

“Immigrate” as a verb

The word “to immigrate” functions grammatically as a verb. It refers to the action of entering and establishing residence in a foreign country, intending to live there permanently or for an extended period. In essence, “to immigrate” describes the act of moving to and residing in a different country or location. It focuses on the perspective of the person or group of people entering the new country.

Examples

  • They decided to immigrate to Canada for a better quality of life and new opportunities.
  • Many skilled professionals immigrate to the US searching for career advancement.
  • My grandparents immigrated to Greece to start a new life in this country.

Tip for using “immigrate” correctly

Using synonyms for “immigrate” can improve writing quality and prevent repetition and redundancy. Here are four alternatives and examples.

Synonyms Examples
Move to She immigrated to the United Kingdom to pursue her education.
She moved to the United Kingdom to pursue her education.
Resettle The refugees were provided the opportunity to immigrate to a safe country.
The refugees were provided the opportunity to resettle in a safe country.
Reestablish After years at home, he decided to immigrate to his favourite country.
After years at home, he decided to reestablish himself in his favourite country.
Take up residence Many retyrees from northern states immigrate to Florida for its warm climate.
Many retyrees from northern states take up residence in Florida for its warm climate.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To enhance your ability to differentiate between the words “emigrate” and “immigrate”, please fill in the blank spaces in the ten sentences provided. You can then refer to the second tab for the correct answers and ensure your understanding.

  1. She decided to ___ to Canada for a better job opportunity.
  2. Many people from the rural areas chose to ___ to the city for a higher standard of living.
  3. He was Chinese, so he later decided to ___ from the United States.
  4. They had to ___ from their war-torn homeland to seek safety abroad.
  5. My grandparents ____ from Italy to start a new life in this country.
  6. The family’s decision to ___ from Australia was motivated by a desire for a better lifestyle.
  7. After completing his studies, he plans to _____ to Germany for work.
  8. The refugees hope to _____ to a country where they can rebuild their lives.
  9. The company is helping its employees ____ to a different city for a new project.
  10. Many skilled professionals _____ to countries with strong job markets.
  1. She decided to immigrate to Canada for a better job opportunity.
  2. Many people from the rural areas chose to immigrate to the city for a higher standard of living.
  3. He was Chinese, so he later decided to emigrate from the United States.
  4. They had to emigrate from their war-torn homeland to seek safety abroad.
  5. My grandparents emigrated from Italy to start a new life in this country.
  6. The family’s decision to emigrate from Australia was motivated by a desire for a better lifestyle.
  7. After completing his studies, he plans to immigrate to Germany for work.
  8. The refugees hope to immigrate to a country where they can rebuild their lives.
  9. The company is helping its employees immigrate to a different city for a new project.
  10. Many skilled professionals immigrate to countries with strong job markets.
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FAQs

“Emigrate” means to leave one’s own country and settle in another.

“Immigrate” means to enter and live in a foreign country permanently.

You “emigrate” from one country and “immigrate” to another country. In other words, you leave your home country when you emigrate, and you enter a new country when you immigrate.

The main difference between “emigrate” and “immigrate” is the perspective from which the action is described:

  • Emigrate: Describes the act of leaving one’s own country or place of residence to settle in another country. It focuses on the perspective of departing from the home country.
  • Immigrate: Describes the act of entering and establishing residence in a foreign country intending to live there permanently or for an extended period. It focuses on the perspective of entering a new country.