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16 Aug
ENG45  0





Emigrate vs. immigrate:

With all the migration happening throughout the world you may have heard the two words “ emigrate “ and “ immigrate” but we may also have this problem of not knowing the difference between them. What is the difference between the two words “emigrate” and ” immigrate”. How should we use them in a sentence or how we know what the speaker is talking about?

They have similar meanings but with a little difference in usage. Let’s look at the right times we use them. Before talking about the difference between the two words let’s look at the word “ migrate “.

To migrate is to move from one country or region and settle in another. Migrate is a general word that the two words emigrate and immigrate come from this big word. When it applies to people, it generally means a permanent move but can also mean a temporary relocation. It can be used for both people and animals.

For example:

Robins migrate south every winter.( for animals )

Many Easterners migrated west during the California Gold Rush ( for people and permanent move).

Many workers migrate north for cropping season (temporary relocation).


When you enter another region to settle we use immigrate. It means a permanent move and is used only for people.

For example:

My grandparents immigrated to the United States in the 1920’s.

When the word immigrate is used it means that an individual or a group of people have moved to another country, in other words they have crossed a political boundary but when “ migrate “ is used it is not necessarily out of the country it can be inside of the country or local.

For example:

Many Michiganders migrate south for the winter.

In the example Michiganders aren’t moving outside of the country they are just changing their regional place.


To emigrate means to leave a region or country permanently to settle in another country. It is used only for people.

For example:

My grandparents emigrated from Norway.

So, when we want to say people are entering a country permanently the word "immigrate ” is used but when talking about leaving people the word “ emigrate ” is used.


My grandparents immigrated to the United States.( meaning entering )

My grandparents emigrated from Norway.( meaning leaving )

So, next time you hear these words or want to use them in your speaking English you have an understanding of how to use them correctly.



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