Let's say that I have a compound phrase: "... to import or export..." that I want to qualify: "from a given database"

The issue is that you would use different preposition depending on the verb: "import into" and "export from". So which single preposition would you use and what is the rule?

Perhaps the correct sentence is ".. to import into or export from a given database" meaning that it is incorrect to use a single preposition?


  • 1
    You have your prepositions backwards here: you import things from another country, and you export things to another country, just like people immigrate from somewhere and they emigrate to somewhere, and immigrants are coming from some other place but emigrants are going to some other place.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 11:49
  • This usage is certainly correct for importing into and exporting from a database, and I'm confident that if I live in country A, I can import things into country A (from country B), and export things from country A (to country B). However, I do not know of one preposition adequately suited to meet this need.
    – Davo
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:08
  • @tchrist It depends on the context and your point of view. If you are speaking specifically you are correct as in "The UK imports Mercedes cars from Germany" or "The UK exports Jaguar cars to the US": but if we are speaking more generally we say things like "Pineapples are imported into the UK as they cannot be grown commercially in our climate." Similarly a Puerto Rican might say "Tonnes of pineapples are exported from here annually, they are an important part of our economy".
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


To be safe and avoid confusion use both prepositions with commas "to import into, and export from, a given database..." and consult this post for further discussion

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