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Hua karta tha vs hotatha

In the movie 3 idiots, Aamir Khan is talking about the chowkidar that used to be in his neighbourhood. Essentially he says "there was this one watchman in the neighbourhood." But instead of saying "ekk chowkidar hotatha" he says "ekk chowkidar hua karta tha." Is there a grammatical reasoning behind this?

I'm fairly fluent in Hindi but I'm trying to brush up and fine tune my grammar. Any insight is appreciated.

October 28, 2019


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It is common in Hindi to use compound verbs to introduce subtle changes in meaning.

करना, as an auxiliary verb, is used to indicate that an action was habitual. In this sentence, there isn't really a huge difference in meaning between the two sentences though the one with 'hua karta tha' sounds more natural.

I'll give another sentence to explain the difference- बचपन में राज मुर्गी खता था and बचपन में राज मुर्गी खाया करता था
Both sentences can be translated as 'Raj used to eat chicken in his childhood' but given the first sentence in the absence of context, I would take it to mean that he used to eat chicken but doesn't anymore (maybe he turned vegetarian?). On the other hand, the second sentence implies that he regularly ate chicken as a kid. Given this sentence, I wouldn't infer that he doesn't eat chicken now. It was just a childhood habit of his to eat chicken.


Thanks for the precise explanation. Could you elaborate more on the grammar: does खाया agree in gender and number with राज or with मुर्गी? In the past tense (if खाया were alone) the verb agrees with the object and the subject is followed by ने, but this is not the case here: what tense is this and how are compound verbs conjugated in general?

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