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I think you can use へ or に more or less interchangeably in your examples without any real change in meaning, but に is probably the more common choice. 1a. 川の向こうへ渡る橋は一つしかありませんでした。 1b. 川の向こうに渡る橋は一つしかありませんでした。 2a. 友達とレストランへ行きます。 2b. 友達とレストランに行きます。 3a. 来月国へ帰ります。 3b. 来月国に帰ります。 Even if you use へ instead of に, you wouldn't be returning in ...


「に」 being colloquial and 「へ」 being for writing, not really. You can have colloquial writing, for example. I think your friend is mixing spoken language with colloquial language. Spoken would be the language that comes out in the form of sound. Being sponken doesn't automatically implies that it is colloquial. You can have formal, polite spoken language, ...

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