I wonder if there are other ways of saying the following sentence:

Children should begin learning a foreign language as soon as they start school.

Is it possible to replace "as soon as they start school" by other phrases without changing the original meaning?

There are four synonyms of "as soon as" given in Merriam-webster: when, immediately [chiefly British], instantly, once.

But I think replacing "as soon as " by any one of them will change the meaning of the sentence.

For example, "immediately" and "instantly" are too strong. One usually says:

I turned on my cellphone immediately/instantly when got off the airplane.

On the other hand, "when" and "once" don't emphasize the tone in this sentence as well as "as soon as", since one can say

I will study algebra when/once I go to elementary school.

while he means

I will study algebra in the last year of my elementary school.

  • Have you searched for synonyms of the phrase "as soon as"?
    – John Feltz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:17
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question is answerable with a thesaurus. Related: Policy for questions that are entirely answerable with a dictionary.
    – LMS
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:41
  • If I replace it by "when" and "once", then I think the tone in the sentence will be weakened. If I replace it by "immediately" and "instantly", it seems too strong
    – No One
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:42
  • There are four synonyms given by M-W merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/as%20soon%20as
    – No One
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:43
  • You should edit your question to add those 4 synonyms and tells us your reasoning about them being too strong/too weak...
    – John Feltz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


I think you're dismissing "once" too quickly. Once can mean more or less the same thing as "as soon as", depending on context. For example:

Children should begin learning a foreign language once they start school.

This implies they will learn the language from the beginning of the school year, not just anytime during the year.

Other phrases that you might use:

Children should begin learning a foreign language from the start of their first school year.

... right when they start school.

... upon starting school.

Somewhat weaker:

... as early as when they start school.

... around the time when they start school.

  • 1
    Also, the moment they start school.
    – BioGeo
    Nov 21, 2016 at 23:54

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