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Here is my sentence

She wanted to show us something, then this happened/happens.

I used grammar checker but it doesn't tell me which one should I use. Which one is correct?

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If wanted is used with happens, then the verbs in the sentence are mixing tenses in a way that's somewhat unusual. It's not necessarily wrong in the right context, but looking only at the sentence itself, the tenses would normally be kept the same:

  • She wanted to show us something, [and] then this happened.
  • She wants to show us something, [and] then this happens.

Generally speaking, more narrative takes place in the past tense than the present tense. So, it would be more common to see wanted and happened used together.

However, it really depends on the tenses being used in the rest of the narrative, and how events are being described in relation to each other.

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