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Compare the position of 了 in the following sentences:

发生了什么事?
What happened?

我想知道他发生什么事了。
I wonder what has happened to her.

Can you explain what the difference is in the positions of the 了?

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发生了什么事 VS 发生什么事了

There isn't essential difference between them. They mean the same and are interchangeable.

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发生了什么事 more refers to an action/occurance which have/had happened. Finished doing/being smth Like 我吃了一个苹果 (I ate the apple and now it doesnt exist) While, 发生什么事了points that the situation is changed. Like 他现在是一位老师了。he is a teacher now (before, he wasn't a teacher) 我不吃巧克力了。I don't eat chocolate (before, I used to eat, now, situation is changed, I don't eat chocolate)

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Actually no difference. You can use these two usages at will. But I want to point out a small problem. “我想知道他发生什么事了。” should be translated as “I wonder what has happened to him.” "他" means "he/him" and “她” means "she/her".

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