‘Export’ vs ‘Import’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on August 30, 2023

Are you wondering about the difference between 'export' vs. 'import?' If so, I can help!

Here is the quick answer: 

  • 'Export' is a verb, noun, and adjective that means to send or carry something away or a trade that is conveyed from one country to another. 
  • 'Import' is a verb and noun that means to bring in or to bring from a foreign source.

But that is just a brief overview of these terms. To truly understand the difference, you should continue reading this post with definitions, examples, and grammar and usage tips.

What's the Difference Between 'Export' vs. 'Import?'

'Export' and 'import' are antonyms or opposites. However, they look similar, and they confuse many people.

  • 'Exports' are items sent or carried out of a region. Countries typically export products that they have an excess of in their area.
  • An 'import' is something brought into a country or region from another. There are many types of imports, including clothing, prescriptions, food, merchandise, automotive, and others. Most nations import items that are more challenging to produce locally.

When and How to Use 'Export' and 'Import'

You learned the difference between these two terms. But knowing when and how to use 'export' and 'import' can still be challenging because each word has several meanings.

So, here are some tips for using 'export' vs. 'import.'

  • Use 'export' when referring to an item that is sent from one area, country, or region to another.

For example, you might say:

We export many goods, including produce, beef, textiles, and electronic components.

  • Use 'export' to describe something that is exported.

As an example, you could say:

The government seizes export vehicles that people try to ship back into the country.

  • Use 'import' to refer to merchandise purchased from another country or area.

So, you might say:

If we cannot find the materials locally, we will have to import them.

  • Use 'import' when talking about transferring files from one format to another or from one device to another.

For example, you might say:

Will you please import the images off of the external hard drive?

  • Use 'import' as a noun for something important.

As an example, you might say:

The import of his decision was not immediately evident. 

  • Use 'import' to convey the significance of something.

For example, you can say:

To win the case, you need to import the motive on the jury.

Definition of 'Export': What Does 'Export' Mean?'

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the verb 'export' as:

  • To remove or carry away
  • To send or carry something from one place to another, usually from one country or region to another
  • To send something abroad

It can also be used as a noun that means:

  • Something sent abroad
  • The act of sending something abroad or to another country

It can also be an adjective that means:

  • Something of or related to exports

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Export'

  • Import
  • Stock
  • Commodity
  • Staple
  • Wares
  • Merchandise
  • Inventory
  • Goods
  • Stuff
  • Products
  • Line
  • Supply

Definition of 'Import': What Does 'Import' Mean?'

The same source defines the verb 'import' as:

  • To bring from an external place or area

It can also mean:

  • To bring from one country to another
  • To transfer data into a new format or file
  • To signify or as meaningful or portent
  • To be a matter of consequence

It can also be a noun that means:

  • An imported item
  • Importance or importation
  • Signification

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Import'

  • Importance
  • Magnitude
  • Gravity
  • Significance
  • Substance
  • Prominence
  • Celebrity
  • Message
  • Meaning
  • Theme
  • Stuff
  • Nature
  • Implication
  • Sense
  • Intention
  • Acceptance
  • Hint
  • Suggestion
  • Connotation
  • Imply
  • Signify
  • Denote
  • Intend
  • Infer

Pronunciation of 'Export' vs. 'Import'

Pronunciation is just as important as knowing the meanings and how to use terms.

So, here is a pronunciation guide for 'export' vs. 'import' that you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'export':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'import':


As you can see, the pronunciation of 'export' is different from the actual spelling, but the pronunciation of 'import' is exactly as you spell the term.

Sample Sentences Using 'Import' vs. 'Export'

You should have a firm understanding of the difference between the terms, as well as how and when to use each. But before you go, read through the sample sentences below to ensure that you remember all the ways you can use them.


  • You have to import your decision to the board members.
  • Please import all of the data on the drive into the program.
  • The import was sent from Sweden.
  • You can import the files on your phone to your computer.
  • Would you rather purchase the materials locally or import them?


  • You can make more money if your company starts exporting to other countries.
  • When you export products, you have to follow specific laws that govern the items.
  • Contact the export company and ask them how much the shipment will cost.
  • We partner with an export company that has customer tools that help us create faster shipments.
  • We have plenty of natural resources here. That is why we export them to other countries.


  • Economies are driven by imports and exports.
  • Please place the import and export reports on my desk before the end of the business day.
  • The shipping company uses different color labels to classify each pallet. Green labels are imports, and red labels are exports.

Final Review of 'Export' vs. 'Import'

We covered a ton of information in this post. So, let's do a quick review of what you learned about 'export' vs. 'import': 

  • 'Export' is a verb, noun, and adjective related to carrying or sending away goods to another area. 
  • 'Import' is a verb and noun that means to make the significance of something apparent or to bring goods into an area. 

If you find yourself stuck on how to use these words in the future, you can always return to this page to review this lesson. You can also find help with other challenging terms and phrases in the confusing words section.

So, if you need to verify the meaning of a word or term, you can also do that here. Each guide contains usage tips, definitions, pronunciations, and grammar rules that pertain to the terms the post covers.

Therefore, they can help you learn new words and improve your writing skills.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.