Hardly … When

The expression — hardly — when/before — is used (often with a past perfect tense) to suggest that one thing happened very soon after another.

  • I had hardly closed my eyes when the phone rang.
  • I had hardly closed the door before somebody knocked.
  • I had hardly reached the station when the train steamed out.

In a formal or literary style, the structure is sometimes used with an inverted word order.

  • Hardly had I closed my eyes when the phone rang.
  • Hardly had I closed the door before somebody knocked.
  • Hardly had I sat for dinner when the telephone rang.
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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