In this context which is more correct:

A: We've found him. He's dead.

B: What happened?/What has happened?

A: We think he fell down the stairs/We think he's fallen down the stairs.

1 Answer 1


Both pairs of sentences are correct, with almost equal 'naturalness'.

'What has happened' is probably the least likely to actually be said, but there's nothing at all wrong with any of the four sentences here.

  • Thanks for your reply. Could I mix/combine the sentences as I'd like?
    – gkjayo
    Jul 19, 2020 at 11:52
  • Grammatically, I don't see why not.
    – rcook
    Jul 19, 2020 at 12:07
  • 1
    Yes. The difference, as usual with the perfect, is entirely in how the speaker is choosing to characterise the temporal relationships: specifically, whether they are choosing to present the event as complete, or as having some present relevance. This is in most cases a free choice, and the choice of one speaker does not necessarily bind that of the replier.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 5, 2020 at 21:49
  • @Colin Fine Do you think "what has happened" is natural in this case?
    – anouk
    May 9, 2022 at 16:06
  • @Anouk. I might have answered your question, but now that you have decided to start bullying me by replacing it by a new copy every day I am not going to.
    – Colin Fine
    May 9, 2022 at 16:30

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