Hardly, no sooner

We can use hardly or no sooner to say that two things happened in quick succession (i.e. there was a very short space of time between the two things happening).

Hardly
We say hardly . . . when / before . . . to say that something happened and another thing happened very soon afterwards.

I'd (I had) hardly finished cleaning up the mess when / before my son dropped cake on the floor.
(= I finished cleaning; my son dropped the cake moments later.)

I'd (I had) hardly got home from work when / before my boss called me and asked me to go back to the office.
(= I got home; my boss called me moments later.)
We often use the past perfect tense (I had done) with hardly.

I'd (I had) hardly fallen asleep when / before the neighbour’s dog started barking.
I hardly fell asleep
We can use scarcely instead of hardly. The meaning is the same.

I'd (I had) scarcely / hardly finished cleaning up the mess when / before my son dropped cake on the floor.
In more formal speech and in literature we sometimes use inversion after hardly and scarcely.

Hardly / scarcely had she drunk the magic liquid when she began to see everything in strange and vivid colours.
hardly she had

No sooner

We use no sooner in a similar way to hardly:

No sooner
We use no sooner . . . than . . . to say that something happened and another thing happened very soon afterwards.

I'd (I had) no sooner finished cleaning up the mess than my son dropped cake on the floor.
(= ‘I finished cleaning; my son dropped the cake moments later.’)

I'd (I had) no sooner got home from work than my boss called me and asked me to go back to the office.
(= ‘I got home; my boss called me moments later.’)
We often use the past perfect tense (I had done) with no sooner.

I'd (I had) no sooner fallen asleep than the neighbour’s dog started barking.
I no sooner fell asleep
In more formal speech and in literature we sometimes use inversion after no sooner.

No sooner had he arrived than he started talking about leaving.
no sooner he had arrived

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