No Sooner Than: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 20, 2023

"No sooner than" indicates something happening immediately after something else, with hardly any time in between. The phrase suggests that one action or event occurs just as, or immediately after, another action or event has concluded. We often use it to express the quick succession of two events. It's like saying that the second thing happened immediately after the first thing.

In short:

  • It refers to an event that occurs immediately after another.
  • It expresses the fast succession of two events.

What Does "No Sooner Than" Mean?

The expression "no sooner than" means that one event occurs immediately after another. When you say "no sooner than," it means that the second event happens as soon as the first one finishes.

Let's explore its core meanings and usage:

  • "No sooner than" indicates that one action or event takes place immediately after another.
  • You use it to highlight how quickly one event followed another.
  • The phrase implies a very short time interval between two events. It suggests the second event occurred as soon as the first was completed.
  • It is often used in storytelling or recounting past events, especially to emphasize the quick succession of those events.
  • You can use it in a sentence like: "No sooner had I closed my eyes than the alarm clock rang; back to the daily grind." This shows that the alarm rang immediately after you closed your eyes.
  • Similar phrases include "as soon as," "the moment that," "right after," and "just as."

Where Does "No Sooner Than" Come From?

The phrase "no sooner than" comes from older English usage. It has been used for centuries to express the immediacy of one event following another. The phrase uses a comparative adverb 'sooner' to denote the quick succession of events, with 'no' serving to emphasize the immediacy.

Historical Example

“No sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage...”

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599

10 Examples of "No Sooner Than" in Sentences

To give you a clearer idea about when to use this phrase, let's explore some examples from various scenarios:

  • I told him to hang in there no sooner than I heard the news.
  • The train had no sooner than left the station when it started raining.
  • I'll always root for you no sooner than you step onto the field.
  • He felt the headache hang over him no sooner than he woke up.
  • They had no sooner than arrived at the beach when it started to rain.
  • Seize the moment because opportunities vanish no sooner than they appear.
  • I had no sooner than got into bed when I heard a loud noise outside.
  • I need my coffee no sooner than I open my eyes in the morning.
  • There's no rest for the weary. No sooner than they finish one task than another appears.
  • We'll integrate the new system no sooner than we receive approval.

Examples of "No Sooner Than" in Pop Culture

The phrase is often used in literature and pop culture to create a sense of immediate action or reaction.

Let's explore some instances:

  • Jean-Paul Sarte's "La Nausée" contains the line: "No sooner is it born, it is already old; it seems as though I have known it for twenty years."
  • A quote from Aminatta Forna reads: "No sooner do we think we can get away with it, we do as we please. It doesn't require the breakdown of social order. It takes a six-hour plane flight."
  • In reference to Frasier's "The Golden Bough," Bronislaw Malinowski stated: "No sooner had I begun to read this great work, than I became immersed in it and enslaved by it."
  • Joanne Mariner's 2001 book "No Escape" has the line, "No sooner than my cellmate jumped into the conversation while Mosely was trying to open my cell door..."
  • A 2007 memoir "Finding Platinum" includes the quote: "Her next customer was already in her chair, no sooner had she turned the dryer on. The heat massaged my thoughts and, of course, they lingered on Max. I loved him so much."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "No Sooner Than"

Various other expressions convey a similar meaning to "no sooner than."

Here are some of them:

  • Immediately after
  • As soon as
  • The moment that
  • Right after
  • Just as
  • The instant that
  • Directly after
  • The minute that
  • Straight away after
  • Without delay after

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "No Sooner Than"

  • What does "no sooner than" mean?

"No sooner than" is a phrase that indicates one event happening immediately after another. It's used to express the quick succession of two events.

  • How can I use "no sooner than" in a sentence?

The phrase "no sooner than" is often used in storytelling or recounting past events. For instance, "They decided to set a precedent no sooner than the discussion began."

  • Where does the phrase "no sooner than" come from?

The phrase "no sooner than" comes from older English usage. It has been used for centuries to express the immediacy of one event following another.

  • Is "no sooner than" a common phrase in English?

Yes, "no sooner than" is a commonly used phrase in English, especially when you want to emphasize how quickly one event followed another.

  • Can "no sooner than" be used in written and spoken English?

Yes, you can use "no sooner than" in both written and spoken English. It is often used in literature, storytelling, and everyday conversations to denote immediate succession of events.

  • Does "no sooner than" have any synonyms?

Yes, similar phrases include "as soon as," "the moment that," "right after," and "just as." These all convey a similar meaning of immediate succession.

  • Is "no sooner than" used more in formal or informal contexts?

"No sooner than" can be used in both formal and informal contexts. However, it might be more frequently seen in written English, such as in literature or formal reports.

  • Can "no sooner than" be used to describe future events?

While "no sooner than" is often used to describe past events, it can also be used in hypothetical or future contexts. For example, "No sooner will we arrive at the airport than our flight will be boarding.

  • Does "no sooner than" always need to be followed by "than"?

Yes, "no sooner" is typically followed by "than" to complete the phrase. The "than" part is important as it links the two events that are occurring in quick succession.

  • Is there a difference between "no sooner than" and "sooner than"?

Yes, while "no sooner than" expresses an immediate succession of events, "sooner than" is used to compare the timing of two events without the same sense of immediacy.

Final Thoughts About "No Sooner Than"

The phrase "no sooner than" is useful in expressing the immediate succession of events. Its ability to create a vivid image of quick action makes it popular in spoken and written English.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "No sooner than" is a common phrase that denotes one event occurring immediately after another.
  • It's often used in storytelling or recounting past events, adding a sense of immediacy and sequential order to the narrative.
  • "No sooner than" can be replaced with similar phrases like "as soon as," "the moment that," "right after," and "just as," depending on the context.

Whether you're telling a story, reporting an incident, or simply describing a series of events, "no sooner than" can help you effectively convey the order and speed of those events.

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