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I think that I understand how 〜ていく and 〜てくる affect the meanings of verbs thanks to posts like this. However, I have trouble understanding why one might use these suffixes when the change in meaning seems extremely subtle.

For example:

すぐ帰ってね。

すぐ帰ってきてね。

Do these essentially mean the same thing? In the second sentence, is 〜てきて just for emphasis?

  • FWIW, you can also say "帰っていく", so there's a distinction here. With "彼が帰っていく", you now that the guy 彼 is in the same place that the speaker, and goes back his home, effectively getting away from the speaker. With "帰ってくる", you know the guy 彼 is NOT in the same place than the speaker, and he is coming back home where the speaker is, effectively getting closer to the speaker. With "帰る" you don't have any information on the relative locations of the speaker and 彼. – jarmanso7 May 17 at 21:09
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    I posted my thoughts as a comment because I don't think they answer your question. I also believe that the difference is very subtle if not redundant, i.e. if I am at home and you already know I am at home when talking to you, it feels redundant to say "帰ってきて" to you. Does it add a nuance that "I'll be here when you arrive"? I really don't know, let's wait for the experts to speak. – jarmanso7 May 17 at 21:14
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  1. すぐ帰ってね。
  2. すぐ帰ってきてね。

They are essentially the same 'go home immediately' and could be used in this way, too.

  • (for 1) When you want someone to 'go to his home immediately' but not to your home.
  • (for 2) When you want your family to go back to your home as soon as they can.

〜してね/ください doesn't specify who needs the action.
〜してきてね the speaker demands it.

例)
お豆腐を買ってね Buy Tofu.
お豆腐を買ってきてね Buy Tofu and bring it to me.
宿題をしてください Do your homework.
宿題をしてきてください Please do your homework at home. Not here.

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