I want to say that something happened yesterday and put emphasis on the fact it was only yesterday, that is recently. Can I put it like this:

I saw him no longer ago than yesterday.

And if I am mistaken, how would you say it, then?


You are not wrong and your statement would certainly be understood. But I would simply say "I only saw him yesterday" or "I saw him only yesterday".


Here is another way to say it. This emphasizes the fact that you saw him recently.

I just saw him yesterday.

  • 3
    This is probably the most common formulation in fluent speech that people will actually use - both in BrE and AmE. Did you hear Dave got hit by a bus?? ...That's terrible - I just saw him yesterday!, etc... Some of the other suggestions are a bit stuffy and formal for casual speech. – J... Jul 21 '15 at 14:53

To add to Gill’s answer.

Assuming you did not see him before yesterday and saw him yesterday.

  • I first saw him yesterday.
  • It was only yesterday that I saw him for the first time.
  • I saw him for the first time yesterday.

Assuming you saw him yesterday and also saw him before then.

  • I saw him yesterday.
  • The last time I saw him was yesterday.

To add to Ian's answer, the type of construction used in

It was only yesterday that I last saw him.

is called a cleft sentence. Cleft constructions are used to stress one or other part of a sentence.

The cleft construction seems like a nice way to express the Russian "не далее чем вчера", "не далее как вчера" ("no longer ago than yesterday").


I notice when there is a strong emphasis on matters related to a precious day, it is typically referenced by using the term "...just...". An example:

We were driving together just yesterday.

Another example:

It just happened last Wednesday.


long ago

is usually used with a duration:

  • How long ago was that?
  • 3 days ago

I would use "no later than" instead:

I saw him no later than yesterday.

  • -1 "No later than" refers to a specified time in future. For example, see here. Besides, seeing something at a particular time, as a fact has nothing to do with time duration and neither does the question "How long ago was that?" – Victor B. Sep 19 '16 at 7:38
  • @Rompey "no later than" is also used for past. See this example. The sense here is "as recently as yesterday" – njzk2 Sep 19 '16 at 12:57
  • "How long ago was that" is just an illustration of how one would use "long ago", to show that it is not the correct form for the OP's case. – njzk2 Sep 19 '16 at 12:59

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