So, here's another nuances question: what are the differences between 返る and 帰る?

Apparently, they have different "secondary" meanings, but are they interchangeable when referring to "returns"?

Feel free to also include 戻る, although some questions already tackled the 帰る vs 戻る issue.

  • Have you tried reading the definitions and usage examples for 帰る and 返る in a 国語辞典, as opposed to a 和英辞典? That might make the distinctions clearer.
    – Nanigashi
    Sep 21, 2020 at 18:14
  • I didn't, sorry. Unfortunately, I don't think I'd be able to efficiently read/utilise a 国語辞典 at my level =(
    – Jak
    Sep 21, 2020 at 18:46
  • 1
    Fair enough! But do try to start using one as soon as you can; it's good practice, and they contain much more information than Japanese-English dictionaries. There's a helpful list of online dictionaries here: japanese.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/756/…
    – Nanigashi
    Sep 21, 2020 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


The difference is actually very simple. The subject of 帰る is a human or an animal, and the destination is a place where they usually belong (home, office, den, etc). In other words, you can think 帰る means "to get home" on its own most of the time. On the other hand, the subject of 返る is an inanimate object, e.g., 返事, 落とし物.

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