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______, Tran, Maya, and their four children left much behind, including their family restaurant. (From ACT test)

Why I can't fill the blank with "after immigrating", but have to be "as immigrants"?

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You are saying "After they arrived they left things behind." They didn't. They left things behind when they departed [from their country].

Saying "As immigrants" only solves the problem if you change the tense of the verb 'leave':

"As immigrants they had left things behind."

It might be clearer to say:

"When they emigrated, Tran, Maya, and their four children left much behind..."

[Btw, immigrate is an AmE word, not a BrE one. If you're not in the US that might be another problem.]

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  • Indeed. As a fellow Brit, I'm perfectly happy with the noun form immigration (as a word, not as a global economic policy! :), but I don't really like the "verbified" versions of that one (He emigrated is much more natural to me than I immigrated). I've no idea why the orthography switches from single to double m depending on the initial vowel, though. Nov 10 '20 at 14:56
  • @FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica: I agree. But how long till we too are immigrating? It's strange how seldom 'emigrate' and 'emigration' are heard these days. From a glance at Etymonline it seems we can blame the emi/immi schism on the Latins! Nov 10 '20 at 18:14
  • Re "It's strange how seldom 'emigrate' and 'emigration' are heard these days" - I'd say the verb [to] emigrate has always been reasonably common, but not the derived noun form emigration. But it's the opposite with [to] immigrate (rare verb) and immigration (common noun). When I just checked Google NGrams I can see that's confirmed in spades for the verbs... Nov 11 '20 at 17:14
  • ...but for the corresponding derived nouns, it seems that actually, emigration was the more common of the two until about 150 years ago (since when immigration has shot to prominence). Nov 11 '20 at 17:16
  • Interesting. You're right. it's 'emigration' and 'immigrate' that are less commonly heard at the moment. I still haven't heard 'immigrate'. How long before there's an equivalent of NGram based on spoken English?! Nov 12 '20 at 0:40

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