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Difference Between Emigrate and Immigrate and a Quiz

When discussing the movement of people across borders, two terms often arise: “emigrate” and “immigrate.”

While they sound similar and are related to the process of relocation, they hold different meanings and perspectives.

WordPart of SpeechDefinitionExample
EmigrateVerbTo leave one’s own country to live in another. Focuses on the point of origin or departure.“Many people emigrated from Ireland during the 19th century.” / “She plans to emigrate from Japan next year.”
ImmigrateVerbTo come to a country of which one is not a native, usually for permanent residence. Focuses on the destination or arrival.“His family immigrated to Australia in the 1980s.” / “Thousands immigrate to the United States every year for better opportunities.”

Misusing these terms can lead to confusion, especially when conveying experiences or policies related to migration.

This article aims to clear up the confusion by defining “emigrate” and “immigrate,” providing usage examples, and offering practical tips to help distinguish between them.

You can also try your hand at our quiz on the difference between emigrate and immigrate in the middle of the page.

difference between emigrate and immigrate

Section 1: Exploring “Emigrate”

Emigrate: Leaving One’s Homeland

“Emigrate” is a verb that refers to the act of leaving one’s own country to live in another.

It focuses on the point of origin – where a person’s journey begins. When someone emigrates, their perspective is rooted in the country they are leaving.

Examples of “Emigrate” in Use

Consider these sentences where “emigrate” is used:

  • “Many people emigrated from Europe to America in the 19th century.” Here, the focus is on leaving Europe.
  • “His family decided to emigrate from Brazil due to economic reasons.” The emphasis is on Brazil as the country of departure.

Section 2: Understanding “Immigrate”

Immigrate: Settling in a New Country

Conversely, “immigrate” describes entering and settling in a new country. This term is used from the perspective of the destination – the place where a person ends their journey and begins a new life.

Usage in Sentences

Here’s how “immigrate” is typically used:

  • “Her parents immigrated to Canada in the 1980s.” This focuses on arriving and settling in Canada.
  • “Many scientists immigrated to the United States during World War II.” The emphasis here is on the United States as the destination country.

Who’s and Whose Whats the Difference Quiz

You can check out our quiz to practice the difference between its and it’s here as well.

Emigrate vs. Immigrate Quiz

Emigrate vs. Immigrate Quiz

Question 1: “To leave one’s own country to live permanently in another is to _____.”


Question 2: “To come to live permanently in a foreign country is to _____.”


Question 3: “People who _____ often seek better opportunities elsewhere.”


Question 4: “She decided to _____ to a different country for a fresh start.”


Question 5: “_____ to a new land can be both exciting and challenging.”


Question 6: “Many individuals _____ to escape political unrest.”


Question 7: “Those who _____ may need to adapt to a new culture.”


Question 8: “He planned to _____ to another country to be with his family.”


Total Score: 0

Section 3: Tips to Distinguish Between “Emigrate” and “Immigrate”

Understanding when to use “emigrate” versus “immigrate” can be made clearer with a few helpful tips:

  1. Direction of Movement: Remember that “emigrate” focuses on the departure and “immigrate” on the arrival. If you’re talking about leaving a country, use “emigrate.” If you’re discussing settling in a new country, “immigrate” is the appropriate choice.
  2. Mnemonic Device: A simple way to remember the difference is: “E” in “emigrate” for “exit,” and “I” in “immigrate” for “into.”
  3. Contextual Clues: Pay attention to the context of the conversation or text. If the focus is on the challenges or experiences of leaving a homeland, “emigrate” is likely the correct term. If the emphasis is on adapting to a new country, then “immigrate” is more appropriate.

Common Errors to Avoid:

  • Confusing “emigrate” with “immigrate” in terms of direction (incorrect: “They emigrated to Italy last year”).
  • Overlooking the perspective of the subject when choosing between the two words.

Section 4: The Importance of Accurate Word Choice

Using “emigrate” and “immigrate” correctly is essential for clear and precise communication.

Misuse of these terms can lead to misunderstandings, especially when discussing topics like migration policy, history, and personal experiences.

Accurate word choice is crucial in these contexts to convey the correct information and perspectives.


The distinction between “emigrate” and “immigrate” is an important aspect of English vocabulary, particularly in discussions about global movement and migration.

By understanding and applying the guidelines outlined in this article, you can communicate more effectively about these topics and avoid common misunderstandings.

What to Do Next?

Have you ever had an experience where the correct use of “emigrate” or “immigrate” was crucial? Share your stories or any additional tips in the comments below.

For further exploration of language nuances, check out our other resources and quizzes!

Other Commonly Confused words in English

Affect and EffectAccept and ExceptAdvise and Adviceyour and you’re
Lay and lieWho and whomIts and It’slose and loose
to, two and tooThat and Whichpray and praywrite, right and rite
who’s and whoseemigrate and immigratefarther and further

We also have an article with over 50 of the most commonly confused words in English here on the site.


I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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