No Sooner…Than Vs. Hardly…When

These two constructions always make me confused. Could you just explain them to me, please?
James Vaughn

James is not the only person that has this doubt. These two are complex constructions, and are frowned upon by many native and foreign speakers of English. So, let's have a look at them today.

Both 'No Sooner…Than' and 'Hardly…When' are used to mean exactly the same. It is when something has happened just before something else. The first of the actions, expressed with 'no sooner' or 'hardly', has happened right before the part after 'than' or 'when'.

One thing to remember with these constructions is never to use 'when' with 'no sooner' or 'than' with 'hardly'. No sooner is clearly a comparative construction and has to be followed by 'than' as in any comparative form.

You can replace 'hardly' with 'scarcely'.


Here are a few examples for you to understand them better. These constructions are rarely used in the present or future tense. But I have included some examples to understand them better.

No sooner had we arrived at the station than the announcement started.
No sooner does Max arrive than the class starts.
No sooner will the bell ring than the feast will start tomorrow.
Hardly had we arrived at the station when the announcement started.
Scarcely had Jake finished the book report when Alan came in.


So, that's it. I hope I cleared your doubts. If you have doubts on any other area of English grammar, please feel free to write to me.

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3 Opinions:

  1. wow!
    very clear
    i was confused with these two expressions but fixed from now on!
    thanx a lot!!

  2. Thanks; after coming to the end of a long essay this concept just lost all meaning to me, but it makes sense again.

  3. Am now enlightened. No sooner had i read the article than i got enlightened


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