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ESL forum > Ask for help > No sooner    

No sooner


No sooner
a)No sooner did I see him than I talked to him.
b)No sooner did I see him, I talked to him. 
Can we use "no sooner" without "than"? Is it grammatically correct?

15 Apr 2018      

United States

I looked it up in my Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, and his examples all included than.  I agree that omitting the "than"  sounds incomplete.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1535_questionanswer/page61.shtml  Here are the examples by Michael Swan 

16 Apr 2018     


I think you need the ´than ´ because it is a comparative (sooner than).

16 Apr 2018     

United Kingdom

Dear alicevideira:
´Can we use "no sooner" without "than"? Is it grammatically correct? ´
I cannot think of a suitable example where ´than ´ is NOT used.
Randolph Quirk, in "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language", page 999.
"Correlative Subordinators = [ ´pairs of linking words ´]"
´no sooner ... than ... ´
´no sooner ... when ... ´ (informal)
So, according to Quirk, ´No sooner ... when ... ´ can be used INFORMALLY.
But, I don ´t ever recall hearing it used like this!
Page 1001 
´no sooner ... than ´
´barely/hardly/scarcely ... when/before ´
"There is a traditional objection to the use of when as correlative with no sooner and to the use of than as correlative with the three negative adverbs."
In other words:
´No sooner ... than ... ´ = OK
´No sooner ... when ... ´ NOT OK.
´Barely ... when ... ´ = OK.
´Hardly ... when ... ´ = OK.
´Scarcely ... when ... ´ = OK. 
´Barely ... before ... ´ = OK.
´Hardly ... before ... ´ = OK.
´Scarcely ... before ... ´ = OK.

´Barely ... than ... ´ = NOT OK.
´Hardly ... than ... ´ = NOT OK.
´Scarcely ... than ... ´ = NOT OK.
Page 1005:
"There is a stereotyped construction:"

"No sooner said than done!" OK
"It was no sooner said than done!" OK
I hope that I have helped you.
Les Douglas 

16 Apr 2018     


Thanks a bunch!

16 Apr 2018     


Great question!
t ´s a formal expression and not commonly used in everyday conversation these days, but one might use it when recounting a story or event.
Most websites state that than is required, however Cambridge said usually, although they didn ´t give an example without than.
So, as the others said, than should be used.

16 Apr 2018