Professional Style

Emigrate vs. Immigrate

January 2011
Spot the Error

Even though Niels emigrated to the United States as a child, he still retains his Swedish accent.

Many (many, many) moons ago in middle school, when I had emigrate and immigrate as vocabulary words, I used this mnemonic device to remember the difference:

  • Emigrate – to exit a country (emigrate and exit both begin with “e”).
  • Immigrate – to go into a country (immigrate and into both begin with “i”).

Once I got that down, I had to remember the prepositions that follow those words:

When someone exits a place he “exits from”; not “exits to.” The same applies to the word emigrate. Niels emigrated from Sweden; he didn’t emigrate to the United States.

Immigrate takes the preposition to or into. So, in the “accent” sentence above, Niels immigrated to the United States as a child.

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