Can someone explain the structure of the following sentence?

  • It was not until hours later did I find him.

Does it have anything to do with emphasis ?


The sentence is not grammatical. It should either be

It was not until hours later that I found him.


Not until hours later did I find him.

This structure indeed emphasizes the temporal adverb. It means the same thing as

I didn't find him until hours later. (= I found him hours later)

  • 1
    Yes, it seems to be a conflation of that first sentence and a more complex construction with the same meaning, Not until hours later did I find him. Either one is correct, but they don't have the same structure, so they can't be combined at will. – John Lawler Mar 3 '15 at 19:16
  • 2
    I would disagree on those two sentences having the same meaning. "until hours later" implies a relatively long period, whereas "only hours later" invokes a relatively short period. – Ian MacDonald Mar 3 '15 at 19:17
  • Thanks for the comments. I edited my answer accordingly. – Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 3 '15 at 19:52

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