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From the SAT:

No sooner had Andrea del Sarto traveled to France to work for the French king than his wife persuaded him to return to Italy.

I am not sure what no sooner ... than means. Does it mean the same thing as:

As soon as Andrea del Sarto traveled to France to work for the French king, his wife persuaded him to return to Italy.

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    Yup, you got it. – Nonnal Dec 2 '15 at 23:10
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    "As soon as" is more neutral that "No sooner". "No sooner" emphasizes the very small delay between his arrival and his decision to leave. It may be replaced by "hardly". – Graffito Dec 2 '15 at 23:28
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Yes.

You can imagine in this case that the traveling would have happened sooner than the convincing: he had traveled, and then, some time after the traveling, he was persuaded to return.

But the sentence says that actually the traveling happened no sooner than the persuading: he had traveled, and then, just as soon, he was persuaded to return.

So the persuading happened as soon as he had traveled.

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They both mean the same thing. The first is used to draw attention to the immediate timescale whereas the second allows the reader to thing that the wife's persuasion is the more important issue. "No sooner ... than" is a sort of irony much beloved by the British and often in a rather obscure manner.

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