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As far as I can tell добраться means "to get to (somewhere/place)".

However, since it's a reflexive verb, in order to take an additional "object", it needs to have a preposition following it. (Unless one has a special-purpose adverb, as in the case of добраться домой). It is unclear to me which preposition is better used here, к or до.

Specifically, добраться к and добраться до both seem to be synonymous to me.

Question: Which is better to use: добраться к or добраться до?

The choice of whether to use к or до does not seem to depend on the type of destination. I have seen both добраться к нам and добраться до нас to mean "to reach us/arrive at where we are", i.e. for arriving at a place defined by some person/people's presence there. I have also seen both used for arriving at a place defined intrinsically, i.e. by name but not by a person's presence or absence there, e.g. добраться к аэропорту and добраться до аэропорта.

(Compare: Она ходила к нам, поэтому она была у нас and Она ходила в аэропорт, поэтому она была в аэропорту -- the different types of locations demand different prepositions.)

The word добраться is new to me, and I don't think it is as likely that I will use it correctly in the future if I don't learn it with a corresponding preposition. But I am not sure which phrase would be better to put on my flash cards: добраться к or добраться до.

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    Note that they are not always interchangeable. And in many cases (maybe in most) "добраться к" and "добраться до" have slightly different meanings. So "добраться до аэропорта/города/дома" is not exactly the same as "добраться к аэропорту/городу/дому". – Abakan May 27 '17 at 19:11
  • @Akaban would you mind explaining in an answer what the difference in meaning is? I honestly have no idea. – Chill2Macht May 28 '17 at 8:13
  • (I don't think it would be enough for an answer) Generally, "добраться до" has broader meaning of arriving, reaching smth., etc. Saying "я добрался до аэропорта" you say that you arrived at the airport. Saying "я добрался к аэропорту" you say that you arrived at the airport but not entered it yet (you stay at the entrance door or are still in the car). – Abakan May 29 '17 at 10:35
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The exact semantic difference eludes me but one thing is for sure: добраться до is 30 times as frequent as добраться к according to ruscorpora.ru. So use до and you'll be right 30:1.

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By default and when required, a verb with a prefix is used in a same-topic utterance with an existing modern preposition similar to a prefix (unless semantics and/or usage require it to be otherwise). Not sure if with works with inanimate complements only or otherwise:

Зайти за деньгами.

Набрести на клад.

Довести до ума.

With your examples, both options are correct, but there are some different nuances of meaning.

к нам means spatially a location 'where we are' in a sense similar to the French 'chez nous' (a place where we abide and which is ours);

до нас means spatially a location 'where we are' in a sense 'a place where we are located now and which is not ours'

This difference seems to work with animate compliments only. E. g. one cannot say about inanimate complements * 'дойти к двери' or * 'дойти к городу' (but the rare or possible usage of дойти + к can also be explained by the aforementioned nuances as well).

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  • I agree with you on the difference between 'my place' and 'my current location' which apparently only works with animate compliments. But there are also lots of example of добраться к with inanimate objects: На впрысковых двигателях добраться к фильтру сложнее., Нам предстояло до темноты добраться к подножию сопки, etc, etc. See search2.ruscorpora.ru/… – Sergey Slepov May 28 '17 at 13:09
  • So it seems that it's the topic that's relevant, not quality of a complement being animate/inanimate. I deduce this from the fact that in both examples you have quoted there must be some change in topic / rhema of the sentences. E. g. the first sentence is likely to follow a description of motors the type of which differs from the injective ones. The second sentence is rather to be an end of a paragraph than to be followed by a discription of the hill. – Manjusri May 28 '17 at 13:11

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