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JLPT N1
Edit  blabby
Meaning
Without really planning to, ~ A phrase indicating that the subject does s.t. without paying much attention or that when, where, to whom, etc. s.t. took place is unclear.
Without really planning to, I spent all day playing computer games.
特に〜しようと思うのではなく
Edit  blabby
Formation
Phrases
ゴロゴロしながらみるともなくそとをみると、アンパンマンがいました!
Without really planning, I looked ouside and saw anpanman!
Edit  #5177 blabby
どこからともなく
Out of thin air...
Edit  #5180 blabby
まつこともなくかのじょがあらわれた。
I had not waited long before she turned up.
Edit  #5181 dc
かのじょはどこからともなくひょっこりやってきた。
She came up from goodness knows where.
Edit  #5182 dc
みるともなくぼんやりがいをみていたら、ふいにおおきなカラスがとんできた。
I was gazing absentmindedly out of the window, when suddenly a large crow flew towards me.
Edit  #5986 khongbietboi
みるともなくぼんやりがいをみていたら、ふいにおおきなカラスがとんできた
I was looking around outside absent-mindedly, and suddenly a huge crow came flying at me
Edit  #8002 LR
さんぽをしているうちにくるともなくえきまできてしまった。
While I was taking a walk, I came as far as the station without intending to.
Edit  #8003 LR
わがやではいつからともなしにしょうがつにスキーにいくしゅうかんがはじまった。
We do not know when, but my family started a tradtion of going skiing on New Year's Day.
Edit  #8004 LR
もくげきしゃのはなしをきくともなくうしろできいていたが、とつぜんそのはなしのなかにじけんかいけつのためのじゅうようなじょうほうがふくまれていることにきがついた。
I was listening to the witness's story from behind without paying much attention, when all of a sudden, I realized that it contained an important piece of information for solving the case.
Edit  #8005 LR
いつもははがそのうたをロシアごでうたうのをきいていたのでなるともなくしぜんにおぼえてしまった。
Because I always heard my mother singing that song in Russian, I learned it without even trying.
Edit  #8006 LR
どこからともなくいいにおいがただよってきた
I couldn't tell from where, but a good smell wafted from somewhere
Edit  #8007 LR
だれともなくじしんのひさいしゃのためにボランティアかつどうをしようといいはじめた。
Without knowing who they were in particular, he started to talk of volunteering to help earthquake victims.
Edit  #8008 LR
Discussion and comments
「〜と(も)なく/〜と(も)なしに」は疑問詞(疑問詞+助詞)につくときは、「<いつ・どこで・誰が・何を>かよくわからないが、〜」という不確かさを表します。また、感覚・知覚・思惟などを表す動詞を反復し、「見るともなく見る/聞くともなく聞く」のように「〜しようというつもりはなく、ただ、なんとなく〜する」という無意識で行われた動作を表します。日本語の不作為・無意識の行為を表す代表がこの「〜ともなく/〜ともなしに」だと言えるでしょう。
khongbietboi
When 「〜と(も)なく/〜と(も)なしに」is attached to a question word (or question word and particle), it expresses uncertainty (about when, where, who, what). Alternatively, when used on either end of verbs expressing sensation, perception or speculation, as in「見るともなく見る/聞くともなく聞く」, it indicates that the action happens unintentionally or without conscious effort. This model can be said to be representative of Japanese phrases expressing involuntary/unconscious actions.
srobertson
)「…となく…となく」の形で慣用的に用いる。
「夜≠ネく昼≠ネく」
kanoko
Ref # Kanzen Master Level 1 - p63 - no.57
LR
Ref # A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar p648
LR
VERB1-non-past + ともなく + VERB2 (where V1=V2) OR
Wh-word + 助詞 + ともなく
LR
When a verb precedes ともなく that verb is usually repeated,however this is not always the case
LR
ともなしに is equivalent to ともなく and the two can be used interchangeably.
LR
Related toとなくbut となく is for only limited words such as どことなく、何となく、誰かれとなく、それとなく
この文章はどことなく変だ。
This passage is strange somewhere (but I cannot tell where)
哲也のことが何となくきになる
I'm concerned about Tetsuya somehow
由里はだれかれとなくよく人の面倒をみる。
Yuri gives a lot of help to anyone (without discriminating)
それとなく飯田に聞いてみたらどう。
Why don't you ask Iida about it indirectly (lit. without making the intention obvious)
LR
I think example #5181 is different grammar. 待つこと、もなく、〜
blabby
Correct! ex #5181 does not belong here.
bamboo4
#5986 could be translated as:

I just happened to glance outside, when suddenly a large crow flew towards me.
montydrei
見るともなくぼんやり外を見ていたら can be translated as "I was looking outside absent-mindedly without really seeing anything....."
bamboo4
You can also say 〜ともなしに
blabby
isn't #8008 something more like, "directed at no one in particular, he started railing about volunteer work to help the earthquake victims."?

...or am i missing something?
ams5661