Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 2: 7/17


Absentmindedly, Mindlessly, Unconsciously, Without paying attention

・It can be also used with うちに、ところに and similar expressions


Verb[る](A) + ともなく(1) + Verb[たら](2)(A)

(1) ともなしに
(2) Verb +


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About ともなく・ともなしに

ともなく and ともなしに are structures used to indicate that (A) was being done absentmindedly when (B) happened. It will be translated as 'unconsciously (A) when (B)', or 'without paying attention to (A), (B)'.
This pattern is a combination of the case-marking particle と, the adverbial particle も, and the conjunctive form of the い-Adjective ない. It will be seen after the dictionary form of verbs, and can be thought of as literally meaning something similar to 'even while not intending to (B), while (A), (B)'.
  • 昨日(きのう)テレビを()ともなく()ていたら、(きゅう)にお(かあ)さんが()てきたから(おどろ)いた。
    When I was absentmindedly watching TV yesterday, I was surprised when my mother suddenly appeared.
  • (はなし)()ともなく先生(せんせい)黒板(こくばん)方向(ほうこう)をぼーっと()ていた。
    I listened absentmindedly while staring towards the direction of my teacher and the blackboard.
ともなしに is similar, but pairs the noun なし 'without' with に, instead of using the conjugative form of ない.
  • ()(かい)上司(じょうし)(はなし)()ともなしに()いていたら、「お(まえ)はどう(おも)う」と()かれたから適当(てきとう)返事(へんじ)した。
    When I was at a drinking party and was absentmindedly listening to my boss, he asked what I thought, so I gave him a random response.
  • (ひま)だったから近所(きんじょ)(ある)ともなしに(ある)いていたら、高校(こうこう)同級生(どうきゅうせい)にばったりあった。
    When I was mindlessly walking in my neighborhood because I had nothing to do, I met my classmate from high school.
ともなく and ともなしに will often be seen in sentences that use たら. This puts emphasis on the specific time that something happened while performing another action absentmindedly. Despite translating this way, the action that precedes ともなく itself will be intentional, but the thing that comes about as a result of performing that action will not be what the doer was aiming to achieve.




    When I was absentmindedly eating dinner with Yamada-san, he suddenly confessed (his feelings for me) and it really surprised me.


    I listened absentmindedly to the announcements of the winners, when, to my disbelief, my name came up.


    I looked at my neighbor's window without paying attention, and, to my surprise, there was a naked person.


    Yesterday, when I was thinking about nothing in particular, I was badly stung by a wasp, and without thinking shouted: 'Ouch!'


    Novel: 'It seems that he fell asleep while he was mindlessly watching TV late at night.'

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