Commonly Confused Words of the Month: Emigrated To

editors-cornerBy Chris Saylor

Welcome back to my Commonly Confused Words of the Month feature. It’s the spot where I go over words and phrases that you might want to use in dialogue to show something about your character, but you never want to use elsewhere.

This month I’ll be looking at the phrase emigrated to.

The correct phrase to use is actually emigrated from. This is because emigrated is an intransitive verb that means “to leave one’s place of residence or country to live elsewhere.” So to be correct, you would pair emigrated with from.

Chris emigrated from the United States.

Immigrated to, on the other hand, is what you do when you go to another country. Immigrate is an intransitive verb that means “to enter and usually become established; to come into a country of which one is not a native for permanent residence.” So to be correct, you would pair immigrate with to.

Chris immigrated to Canada.

Now to apply this to your fiction writing.

If you have a character that is educated or savvy with the English language, you could have them talking about emigrating from the United States to Canada or immigrating to Canada from the United States.

If you want to show that a character is less sophisticated or less knowledgeable about the language, you could have them talking about emigrating to Canada or immigrating from the United States.

Is there a word or phrase that you often hear that bothers you? Share it in the comments below and I’ll be sure to address it.

Every Saturday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be here in the Editor’s Corner, simplifying some of these grammar concepts for you and showing you how they specifically apply to your fiction. Coming up next week is Using Ellipses and Dashes in Fiction.

Want to hire Chris for a proofread or copy edit? You can find out more about him at, or you can email him to talk about rates and availability at christopher.saylor21 [at] You might also want to check out the book he co-wrote with Marcy, Grammar for Fiction Writers, available at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or Apple iBooks.

Enter your email address to follow this blog: