Yesterday I talked to a British friend and said,' I went back to Shanghai'. He corrected me as below:
I got back to Shanghai.
I wonder why my words are wrong grammatically. Thank you for your help.
Both of these are grammatically correct. It's just a matter of what circumstances they're used in.
"I got back to Shanghai yesterday" would be used if you were IN Shanghai at the time of speaking, and had arrived back there a day earlier. It makes more sense with a time determiner in there (like yesterday or a few hours ago). If you had only recently returned, you'd say, "I just got back to Shanghai." (The word just acts as a time determiner.)
"I went back to Shanghai" would be used if you were, for example, telling a story and everything was in the past tense. So, "I traveled around Asia for awhile, then I went back to Shanghai." And even here, went would normally only be used if you were NOT in Shanghai at the time of speaking. If you were, you'd use the verb came.
In the context your British friend gave you, the phrasal verb got back means "returned." So the actual verb here is got back, not just got. That may have been what confused you. :)
Hope this helps!
That's right. It depends on whether you're currently in Shanghai, and whether you normally live there.
Thank you for your help.
So if I wouldn't like to say 'got back', is it okay to say ' returned to Shanghai or came back to Shanghai if I were in Shanghai when I were talking to that friend, but before several hours I had been in Hangzhou.
On a related question.... I was always irked when Hong Kong colleagues, at the office, said "come back" meaning "arrive at work."
"Make sure you come back before 8:30 AM" is one example.
In AmE, home is the base and work is away, so the phrase sounds extremely awkward to me.
Then, to my surprise, an Australian colleague used the same phrase in the same way.
Are there any other non-American English speakers who find "come back" a good synonym for "arrive at work?"
I wouldn't use it in that context and I can't say I've heard it in Britain.