Immigrate vs Emigrate – Pick The Correct Word

The English language is littered with pairs of words that are often confusing to use. Some even sound similar and are related, which makes it even more confusing. We’ve tackled loss vs lost, and now we’re going to discuss immigrate vs emigrate. Before we get to the trick that will help you remember which is which, let’s first individually tackle each word’s definition and some examples.


To immigrate means to go to a country (that is not your country of origin) to settle and live there. When you immigrate, you are moving to another country. 


  • A lot of people from third world countries dream of immigrating to the US to live the American dream.
  • Lily has full Asian blood, but since she immigrated to a different continent at a young age, she doesn’t remember her life in Asia.
  • I have all the requirements I need, and I just have to pack all my belongings before I immigrate to Spain next week.
  • My friend’s goal is to work hard and save a lot of money so she can eventually immigrate to Australia when she retires.
  • We’re so excited about our summer trip since we haven’t seen our friend Sulla since she immigrated to Ireland.


To emigrate is to leave your place of residence to live somewhere else. When you emigrate, you are moving away from your current home.


  • With the state of the economy in this country, people are bound to emigrate and look for a better life elsewhere.
  • It’s been years since I emigrated from my home country, so I am somewhat disconnected with the reality there.
  • She has yet to decide where she’ll be going, but she is firm in her decision to emigrate and start a new life somewhere far away.
  • No one told me how heavy the emotional toll emigrating would have on you.
  • I almost could not recognize my aunt since she’s changed so much since she emigrated.

Immigrate vs Emigrate

It’s very understandable why people often interchange the two words since they both have to do with moving from one country to another. The big difference is that one means moving to a country, while the other means moving away from your current place. Let’s look at an example to better understand this difference. In this example, we will be using a similarly structured sentence for both words to better illustrate the difference.

Sentence 1: Next year, I want to immigrate to Canada.

Sentence 2: Next year, I want to emigrate Canada. 

Looking at both sentences, you can see that only the words in bold differ, and the rest of the words are the same. However, both sentences have different meanings and implications. The first sentence implies that the speaker comes from a country that is not Canada and shows that the speaker wishes to move to Canada. Meanwhile, the second sentence implies that the speaker is from Canada and shows that the speaker wishes to move to another country and leave Canada.

The trick to remembering the difference is easy. Just remember, the I in immigrate stands for “into,” and the E in emigrate stands for “exit.” 

And here’s a cool thing about immigrate vs emigrate, you do both at the same time. When you’re emigrating from your home country, you’re immigrating to a new one. In other words, when you exit one country, you’re moving into another.