Emigrate vs Immigrate

The verbs emigratewith an e, and immigrate, with an i, are often confused. These two words, emigrate and immigrate, have the general meaning 'to move from one country to another'. They also sound very similar, but there is a difference in meaning between these two verbs. 
Emigrate or Immigrate


When to use emigrate 

The verb to emigrate /ˈemɪɡreɪt/ means 'to leave a country in order to live permanently in another'. Emigrate is often followed by from. 
  • My grandparents emigrated from Europe to America. 
  • They are planning to emigrate to Norway. 
  • His ancestors emigrated from Ireland.  

Emigrant or Immigrant? 

A person who has left their own country to live anywhere is called an emigrant. In their new country they are called an immigrant. 
  • Millions of emigrants left Europe for America in the 19th century. 
  • Hundreds of illegal immigrants were sent back to their own countries. 

When to use immigrate 

The verb to immigrate /ˈɪmɪɡreɪt/ means 'to come to a different country in order to live there permanently'. Immigrate is often followed by the preposition to. 
  • My parents immigrated to Russia just before I was born. 
  • Many people immigrate to other countries for freedom. 
  • Nearly 5000 people immigrated to this region. 
We can use emigrate and immigrate interchangeably. 
  • Anna emigrated from Russia to Poland. (=Anna left Russia to go and live in Poland.) 
  • Anna immigrated to Poland from Russia. (Anna came and lived in Poland after leaving Russia.) 

Three helpful hints 

1. To emigrate means to leave your country  and immigrate means to enter a new country to live there. 
  • They emigrated from Ukraine and immigrated to France. 
2. Emigrate begins with the letter e as in exit and export. 
3. Immigrate begins with the letter i as in into and import. 

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