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"no sooner" = "very shortly after"



 
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"no sooner" = "very shortly after" #1 (permalink) Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:00 am   "no sooner" = "very shortly after"
 

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #115 "Tense Agreement", question 1

No sooner ......... I shut the door, when the telephone rang.

(a) have
(b) did
(c) will
(d) had

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #115 "Tense Agreement", answer 1

No sooner had I shut the door, when the telephone rang.

Correct answer: (d) had

Your answer was: incorrect
No sooner did I shut the door, when the telephone rang.
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hi, I don't quite understand this structure. Could you explain it to me, please?

Andre
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No sooner #2 (permalink) Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:48 am   No sooner
 

Hi,

This means very shortly after I had shut the door, the telephone rang.

Alan
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Two correct answers! #3 (permalink) Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:09 am   Two correct answers!
 

This test needs some sort of repair.

Option b (did) is also correct here. Both option b and option d should be designated as correct answers. However, only option d is currently programmed as a "correct" response.

The simple past tense can be and is also used in such a sentence. (The use of the simple past tense may be more common in North America, however.) In other words:

- No sooner did I shut the door, when the telephone rang.

I would also add that in a sentence or clause beginning with 'No sooner', the use of the word 'than' rather than 'when' is extremely common. In other words:

- No sooner did/had I shut the door than the telephone rang.
.
.

Here are some further examples of the various options (taken from the BNC):

- No sooner did she set eyes on the gentleman than she recognised his pecuniary position to be merely temporary.

- They were tantalizingly obscure --; no sooner did you think you'd begun to grasp the gist when it slipped through your fingers

- No sooner had she crossed a small bridge near the farm than the storm resumed with even greater intensity.

- No sooner had we done so when a staff officer drove up in a car, accused us of looting and ordered us to put the tins back in the cases.

.
.

For those who might be interested, this link addresses the same topic:
http://www.englishforums.com/English/SoonerPastSimplePastPerfect/cqwxj/post.htm
.
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"no sooner" = "very shortly after" #4 (permalink) Mon Jul 07, 2008 23:20 pm   "no sooner" = "very shortly after"
 

I would go a little further than Amy, and call "when" incorrect, in this construction: "no sooner" implies a comparison. If we remove the inversion, this becomes clearer:

1. ???I had no sooner shut the door, when the telephone rang.

Correct to:

2. I had no sooner shut the door, than the telephone rang.

i.e. my shutting of the door occurred no sooner than the ringing of the phone.

I would agree about the usage with "did", e.g.

3. The hippodrome was already filled with innumerable multitudes; and no sooner did the emperor appear on his throne, than the voices of the blue and the green factions were confounded in the same loyal acclamations. (Gibbon)

4. Jane desired me to do it, so I always do: and so I began to-day with my usual caution; but no sooner did I come to the mention of her being unwell, than I burst out, quite frightened, with "Bless me! poor Jane is ill!" which my mother, being on the watch, heard distinctly, and was sadly alarmed at. (Jane Austen)

5. But no sooner did the horse come within sight, than his heart sank again. (George Eliot)

Best wishes,

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