1. The standard construction is scarcelywhen…:

• Scarcely had he begun when Claverhouse ordered him to rise —A. Boyle, 1990.

The construction with than, though increasingly common and perhaps suggested by the analogy of no soonerthan…, is non-standard:

• ☒ But scarcely had he begun to investigate these new, if somewhat less adventurous, hunting-grounds, than the entire party was ‘summoned back to Hobarton by Sir John’ —I. Tree, 1991.

A construction with a following comparative adjective or adverb is however acceptable:

• There could scarcely be a less promising environment for an amphibian than the desert of central Australia —David Attenborough, 1988

• The difficulty of putting to rights two of the wrongs affecting children's education could scarcely be better illustrated than through the dilemma facing teachers over problem pupils —Western Daily Press, 2000.

2. Scarcely, like barely and hardly, has a negative force without being grammatically negative, and another negative should be avoided in the same sentence unless it is in a following subordinate clause:

• There is scarcely an aspect of the race that is not rife with meaning —New Yorker, 1989.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • scarcely — ► ADVERB 1) only just. 2) only a very short time before. 3) used to suggest that something is unlikely to be or certainly not the case: they could scarcely all be wrong …   English terms dictionary

  • scarcely — [skers′lē] adv. 1. hardly; not quite; only just 2. probably not or certainly not [scarcely true] …   English World dictionary

  • scarcely — index almost Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • scarcely — [adv] barely hardly, imperceptibly, infrequently, just, just barely, only just, rarely, scantily, seldom, slightly; concepts 541,789 Ant. adequately, commonly, sufficiently …   New thesaurus

  • scarcely — [[t]ske͟ə(r)sli[/t]] 1) ADV BRD NEG: ADV before v, ADV group, oft ADV amount (emphasis) You use scarcely to emphasize that something is only just true or only just the case. He could scarcely breathe... I scarcely knew him... She seemed scarcely… …   English dictionary

  • scarcely — adverb 1 almost not or almost none at all: Parts of the city had scarcely changed since we were last there. | scarcely any/ever: There s scarcely any coffee left. | can/could scarcely: It was getting dark and she could scarcely see in front of… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • scarcely — scarce|ly [ˈskeəsli US ˈsker ] adv 1.) almost not or almost none at all = ↑hardly ▪ The city had scarcely changed in 20 years. ▪ The country had scarcely any industry. ▪ He scarcely ever left the region. can/could scarcely do sth ▪ It was getting …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Scarcely — Scarce Scarce, Scarcely Scarce ly, adv. 1. With difficulty; hardly; scantly; barely; but just. [1913 Webster] With a scarce well lighted flame. Milton. [1913 Webster] The eldest scarcely five year was of age. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] Slowly she… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • scarcely — adverb Date: 14th century 1. a. by a narrow margin ; only just < had scarcely rung the bell when the door flew open Agnes S. Turnbull > b. almost not < could scarcely see for the fog > 2. a. certainly not < could scarcely int …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • scarcely */*/ — UK [ˈskeə(r)slɪ] / US [ˈskerslɪ] adverb 1) almost not, or almost none I can scarcely believe what s happened. There was scarcely any traffic. 2) only just We had scarcely driven a mile when the car broke down. 3) used for showing that something… …   English dictionary

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