Consider this sentence:

  1. As soon as we reached the station, the train left.

Now if I transform this into a sentence beginning with Hardly, then which of the following sentences is correct and why?

  1. Hardly had we reached the station when the train left.
  2. Hardly did we reach the station when the train left.

Also in sentences beginning with As soon as can we use past perfect like this?

  1. As soon as we had reached the station, the train left.
  • 1
    The question needs research, 744, but may not be answered clearly in dictionaries. It's at least a near-duplicate, see eg Use of 'hardly ... when' and questions on inversion after a negative element. Feb 12, 2020 at 14:39
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    Is this part of an exercise or test where you are supposed to convert the original sentence to one starting with "hardly" or one using "hardly"? I ask this because I would find "We had hardly arrived at the station when the train left" more familiar and natural. Both the sentences starting with "hardly" seem slightly odd, or at least archaic, to me.
    – BoldBen
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:10
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    Yep It is a question in my assignment I have to begin the given sentence with Hardly
    – user744725
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:13
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    Does this answer your question? Inversion + past tense and Use of 'hardly ... when' (closed as a duplicate; also addresses 'scarcely ... when' and 'no sooner ... than'). Feb 12, 2020 at 16:45
  • Most of the sentences beginning with hardly use a had as the next verb but sometimes did is also used instead of had in similar sentences so I need to know which one is the more appropriate usage
    – user744725
    Feb 12, 2020 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


The expressions Hardly/Scarcely...when and No sooner...than can be used with simple past or past perfect verbs interchangeably.

Details and more example sentences can be had from the site English Grammar

When as soon as is used to talk about completed actions in the past, the simple past or past perfect verb can also be used.

Example: (from thefreedictionary.com)

As soon as she got out of bed the telephone stopped ringing.

As soon as she had gone, he started eating the cake.

  • 1
    Please remove the first link; the work contains several mistakes on that one page. // But you also need examples using 'Hardly ...'. Feb 12, 2020 at 16:34
  • @EdwinAshworth sorry for the error. It has been corrected. Feb 12, 2020 at 16:39
  • Your quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (at one of the duplicates) was better. Feb 12, 2020 at 16:53

strong text>Hardly had we reached the station

This is an example of Adverb Fronting Inversion

Random Idea English at http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2014/09/exploring-inversion-and-fronting.html has a good explanation

Inversion and fronting

Inversion is often used in connection with fronting. Sometimes fronting involves inversion, often it doesn't. Sometimes that inversion is obligatory, sometimes it isn't.

Fronting of a negative adverb, with obligatory inversion.

He had never seen such a wonderful sunset. (standard word order)

Never had he seen such a wonderful sunset. (fronted with inversion)

Fronting of a prepositional phrase, with optional inversion

A large dog lay in front of the fireplace. (standard word order)

In front of the fireplace, lay a large dog. (fronted with inversion)

In front of the fireplace, a large dog was chewing a bone. (fronted, no inversion)

Fronting of wh-clause - here inversion is not possible

I've no idea why she's late. (standard word order)

Why she's late, I've no idea. (fronted, no inversion)

The commonest uses are “so do I” and “neither do I”

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    Hello, Greybeard. Even correct answers on ELU are usually thought to be inadequate if they lack supporting evidence (linked and attributed references, preferably from authoritative sources). Feb 12, 2020 at 14:42

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