Why do you not use に after ごろ?

Dumb question maybe but can someone explain why you don’t use に after ごろ in a sentence like this:
何時ごろ帰りますか。

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“It can function like an adverb on its own”… is kind of a tautological explanation I guess.

You want to know why it functions like an adverb on its own, I suppose. Sorry, I don’t know the etymology or anything.

You can use に. It’s optional though.

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I believe this is explained in the Genki 1 book but with 何時に you can take に to have the meaning of “at” - a pointer of location in time. While ごろ meaning “around about” already has that meaning of a location in time, it’s just a wider location of time so you don’t have to use に.

Hope that makes a little bit of sense as it’s hard to explain the nuance.

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頃に means “around the time when”.

There’s a manga with the name ひぐらしのなく頃に