I have got one task on translation:

  1. They'd hardly come into the house when the storm broke out.
  2. Hardly had he opened the window when the strong wind scattered the papers on the floor.
  3. I had hardly reach (had approached) the corner of the street when I heard someone's steps behind me.
  4. Hardly had I said good-bye to them when the train started moving.

Although constructions "hardly" and "no sooner" both almost have the same meaning, they are slightly different in meaning (when we are translating them), and as a result it would be better not to use "no sooner" instead of "hardly" in the sentences above.

Am I right?

  • No sooner implies greater immediacy than hardly but which you used would simply be a matter of preference. May 20, 2017 at 13:57
  • No sooner and Hardly can be used to suggest that one thing happened very soon after another.(Often with the past perfect tense) Both of the meaning seem identical .
    – QuokMoon
    May 20, 2017 at 15:54
  • @Ronald Sole: I'm not convinced no sooner implies greater immediacy - I think it's just becoming increasingly dated by comparison with just. So I'm intrigued that OP can blithely assert they are slightly different in meaning (when we are translating them). Quite apart from the fact that I don't see any semantic distinction myself, I can't see how OP can know to translate them differently. May 20, 2017 at 15:55
  • 1
    Would it not depend on the language you are translating to? If it has expressions for the same nuances that "hardly" and "no sooner" differ with, then there might not be any problem.
    – Winter
    May 26, 2017 at 21:58
  • 1
    What are you translating into?
    – Peter
    May 27, 2017 at 5:55

2 Answers 2


"No sooner" tells us that an action was completed and then something followed shortly after. It emphasizes the immediacy with which the the second action followed the first.

"Hardly" suggests that the second action interrupted the first, or very nearly did. It hints at a lack of completion or a very near inability to complete it.


Maybe this might help.

Some alternatives, in order of least to greatest amount of time between arriving and raining, might be

They had no sooner arrived when it began to rain.

Just when they arrived, it began to rain.
They had just arrived when it began to rain.

They had hardly arrived when it began to rain.
They had barely arrived when it began to rain.

Upon their arrival, it began to rain.

After they arrived, it began to rain.


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