Should I write "what happens when" or "what happen when"? Does it depend on if I know if the "what" that happens is plural or singular, or is it always the same?

Provided "what happens" is correct in all situations, how about this:

"What happens when [something]? Two things: [one thing that happens] and [another thing that happens]."


I can't find a grammatical rule that explains this, but I do know that "What happen when" sounds very wrong. It should be What happens when.

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  • I concur. It seems to me that "what" always has singular agreement. "What happens during a thunderstorm? Lightning strikes happen." – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 May 13 '11 at 14:06

"What" is a pronoun, and you use the third person singular form of the verb, which for most simple verb means a suffix of "s". "What happens" is correct.

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