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Why do I use kaette instead of kaeru in the sentence "kinou wa uchi ni kaette nani wo shimashita ka."

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4 Answers

The -te form can be used to connect two sentences, which implies a connection which may or may not be so obvious at first glance.  As separate sentences, "Kinou ha uchi ni kaerimashita.  Nani wo shimashita ka," would have no implied or explicit relationship.  "You came home yesterday.  What did you do?"  The -te form makes it "When you got home yesterday, (and then) what did you do?"
I like to think of "te" form (in this case) as acting like the "and" conjunction in English. The particle "to" (and) CANNOT be used with verbs, only with nouns. This is the Japanese way of implying "and" or "and then" as David-sensei wrote!
Kaeru means I am going home
Kaette means there is something to be described after.
For instance 
I am going home 
Ie ni kaeru. Uchi he keru. means simply stating you are going home.
Kaette suggests you went home and did something like cooked, studied, sang after you went home.
So if you want to keep your conversation such as
I went home and danced around. that can be
Ieni kaette odorimashita.
Kaette can connect to verbs and activities.
Went home and did XXX
So if you want to use Kaette that means you have something else to say.
Also when you say kaeru, that is like saying
"Guys I am out! I am going home"
So unless otherwise you are super close to the person you should use 
"Kaerimasu" instead of Kaeru.
You can say things like
Soro soro ieni kaerimasu (I think it is time to go home for me)
If you want to say super polite and authentic way you can state
"Soro soro oitoma shimasu (I excuse myself from your home (space)
Hope this answers your question!