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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?

6 Answers 6

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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".

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

I just saw him yesterday.

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    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, 2015 at 14:53
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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.
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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").

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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.

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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.

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  • -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, 2016 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 12:59

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