Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 6: 18/20


Without ~ing


Verb + ことなく


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About ことなく

Like ないで 'without', ことなく is an expression used in Japanese following verbs that expresses (B) being done 'without (A)'. However; ことなく is used in more formal situations, and when there is some contrast between (A) and (B). This may appear in one of two ways, which we will discuss in a moment.
ことなく is a mix of こと, and なく, the adverbial form of ない. It will follow the dictionary form of verbs.
The first contrastive use of ことなく illustrates that (A) is something negative, to which (B) should be done as a preventative measure, or was able to be done while avoiding (A).
  • 怪我人(けがにん)()ことなく人質(ひとじち)全員(ぜんいん)救出(きゅうしゅつ)する(こと)ができたそうです。
    They were able to rescue all the hostages without injuring anyone.
  • 遅刻(ちこく)することなく職場(しょくば)()いた。
    I was able to arrive at work without being late.
The second use of ことなく highlights when (A) is something that was or would be wished for, but unfortunately (B) happened without it being realized. In this way, (A) is frequently some kind of unmet desire.
  • 犯人(はんにん)(つか)まることなく10(ねん)()つ。
    Ten years pass without the culprit being caught.
  • (かれ)社長(しゃちょう)(なに)()ことなく会社(かいしゃ)()めた。
    He quit his job without telling the boss.




    It will end without me understanding anything.


    It will end without me knowing the truth.


    To arrive without being late.


    Takanohana retired without ever joining a group of related sumo stables.


    I heard that athlete plays without doing warming up exercises.

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ことなく – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (3 in total)

  • FredKore


    For this grammar point, since ことなく always goes with a verb and the meaning is [almost] always translated “without [verb]ing”, doesn’t it make more sense to change the reviews so that 1) “without [verb]ing” is highlighted in the English sentence, and 2) the user has to input both the verb and ことなく ?

    I guess I thought of this because when I do the reviews, only the hint “without” shows first, and I keep thinking the answer is なし or ぬき.

  • Pushindawood


    @FredKore Hey! Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I have opted to just include the “ing” in the highlighted part as the verb does not need to be conjugated in this construction and including the “ing” should help you differentiate this grammar point from なし or ぬき. Let me know what you think. Cheers!

  • FredKore


    Ah! I get it. Right, this is just making it a noun.
    I like the change!

    kinda like this…
    Verb + こと・が・できる

    p.s. this is one of the quirks of English that I’ve realized while studying Japanese – some English verb forms have overlapping usages – “ing” for present progressive “he is running” and verb-to-noun “running is hard”.

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