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Imagine I am in Beijing, and I just returned from a trip to Shanghai. A friend in Shanghai calls me and asks "你回北京去了吗?" I can't really say 对 or 没错 or 是的 to confirm his question, because I did not 回去, I 回来ed.

Is it acceptable to respond with "我回去了" or must I say "我回来了?"

  • it depends location of you and your target. Shanghai says: 你回去北京了? (your friend is not in Beijing,so "回去"). if you are already in Beijing, you can say: 我回来了。 if you are still in plane or train, you can say: 我正回去北京 or 我正准备回去北京。(we can also 回北京, the audience can see 回去 or 回来). – Daniel Yeung Jun 9 '17 at 9:50
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Please read this previously asked question : Are both 回了 and 回来了 correct responses to 你回天津了吗 (have you returned to Tianjin)?

Since you are currently in Beijing, the answer should be ' Yes I have came back to Beijing' (我回北京了 or simply 回来了 or even 回了)

  • The answer is in your own perspective

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If you replied: "Yes, I have gone back to Beijing" (我回北京去了) Then you are pretending you are in Shanghai with your friend, because your voice is heard in Shanghai via the telephone.

  • The answer would be in your friend's perspective

In conclusion: both 回来了 ( your perspective) and 回去了 (your friend's perspective) are acceptable over the phone.

If you omit 来 or 去 and just say : "回了" then it can be interpreted either way.

It would be much simpler if both you and your friend were in the same location.

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我回去了:
I am going back, or: I will go back (to the place I come from).

我回来了:
I am coming back, or, I have come back (from the place I had been to).

我要回北京去了:
I am going back to Beijing, or: I will go back to Beijing.

我已经回北京了:
I am coming back to Beijing.

我从上海回来了:
I am coming back from Shanghai, or, I have just come back from Shanghai.

If you have arrived in Beijing, you may answer him:
我回来了。
我回北京了。
我已经回(到)北京了。
If you are still in Shanghai, and about to go back, you may answer him:
我(要)回北京去了。

The character in brackets can be omitted.

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