1 Words like hardly, scarcely, and rarely should not be used with negative constructions. Thus, it is correct to say I can hardly wait but incorrect to say I can’t hardly wait. This is because adverbs like hardly are treated as if they were negatives, and it is a grammatical rule of standard English that double negatives are not acceptable. Words like hardly behave as negatives in other respects as well, as for example in combining with terms such as any or at all, which normally occur only where a negative is present (thus, standard usage is I’ve got hardly any money, but not I’ve got any money). See also double negative (usage). 2 Hardly . . . than versus hardly . . . when: the conjunction than is best left to work with comparative adjectives and adverbs (lovelier than; more quickly than). Consider a construction such as Sheila had hardly recovered from the flu when she lost her beloved beagle: in speech, one might tend to use than as the complement to hardly, but in careful writing, since time is the point, the word to use is when. In a more formal context, however, the idea would be better conveyed: No sooner had Sheila recovered from the flu than she lost her beloved beagle. In this sentence, than does belong because it is the natural conjunction after the comparative adjective sooner. 3 As synonyms, hardly, barely, and scarcely are almost indistinguishable.