Totally n00b question, but can somebody break this down for me?

So, 行く、来る、帰る… I’m confusing myself trying to remember which to use when. I think it’s opposite English, but I think I’m overthinking it and then I hesitate and don’t know whether to say return or come or go. Halp.

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Just to say that I was here before Leebo answered.


It depends on your current position.

行く is used for movement away from you (or the place where you are now)
来る is used for movement toward you (or the place where you are now)
帰る is used when someone is returning to the place they usually reside

There’s more nuances as well, such as you can “empathically” use them even if they conflict with where you are physically at the time, if the person you are talking about is close to you relationship-wise or the place in question feels close/far to you in the grand scheme of things.


Yeah, I was about to say something, then “Leebo is replying”


Haha yeah… that little “so and so is replying” thing is weird.


Okay, so you would only use kaeru to return home, but you wouldn’t say like, 明日は学校にかえります If you were currently AT school and talking about coming back? Or like, work. How about if you’re constantly at work (kind of like you live there @_@) and you’re taking about coming back to work tomorrow while you are at work currently?

And then, if you’re inviting somebody to go to your house. Would you say かえりませんか、来ませんか、or 行きませんか?

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Returning to a place that isn’t your home is 戻る (もどる).

I don’t know if Japanese people would use that jokingly or understand it if a non-native did.

That would probably be 来る, because it’s “close” to you no matter where you are.

It should be noted that いく and くる can also be used as helping verbs and applied after the て form of verbs to emphasize the directionality. So, 戻ってくる is to return to a place where you are currently, 戻っていく is to return to a place where you are not currently. These can be applied at the end of 帰る too. You often hear 帰ってきた.


On top of 戻る, you could also say 明日来ます。
I’m coming tomorrow too. It sounds more natural to me in that context.


Sure, in the case of school, because it’s a regular thing, 戻る isn’t the best for that. But you could use it if you left school during the day and returned. I kind of ignored the 明日 in her sentence.

ありがとう❗️@Leebo and @Nath!

Edit: Leebo I can’t tag you waa

<---------- is a her ^-^

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No problem. I think maybe you need a space after the exclamation point to make it work?

Feel free to make your own topics when you want to ask questions, that’s always okay, but if you’re interested we do have this topic as well.

And lol, I just noticed the first question in that thread was about いく and くる… and I was the first response… lol… maybe I do spend too much time here.


帰る can also be used to mean “leave” even if you’re not going back home. I don’t think you can use it every time, but at least my Japanese teachers taught me to use it to ask permission to leave school (帰ってもいいですか?), say, if you were going to the hospital because you were sick or so.

My apologies! I didn’t know that existed! I’ll check that out next time. I do appreciate the swift reply though! =)

No need to apologize, as I said, it’s always okay to make your own topic, but the other one might be interesting to read as well.

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Just wanted to say how invaluable it is to this forum to have people like you around. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that so I just wanted to.

Take care :blush:


nah hes malicious af.


I wonder if this is because typically you might go home after going to the hospital rather than directly back to school? I think usually if you are talking about going somewhere then returning to your earlier location you might use 行って来る

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