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Is there any difference between 帰宅{きたく}する and 帰{かえ}る (return home) or are they just exact synonyms?

For example, in that sentence from Tatoeba :

夜{よる}になったので、帰宅{きたく}した。

Can 帰宅{きたく}した be replaced by 帰{かえ}った?

When should 帰宅{きたく}する be used instead of 帰{かえ}る (or vice versa)?

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  • 帰宅 means "to return home", but 帰る only means "to return". You can say 会社に帰る, but 会社に帰宅する is wrong. Depending on the situation, 夜になったので帰った can mean "I returned (to the office/base/school/etc)". There are also 帰社 "to return to office", 帰室 "to return to one's room", 帰国 "to return to one's country", and so on.
  • 帰宅 is a kango, and thus sounds more formal. It's mainly used in business settings. There are already dozens of similar questions in this site, so please take a look at some questions marked with .

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