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How can I parse this sentence:

外観よりも実際にためになることのほうがいい。

So that it means:

In comparison to appearance, reality is better

Edit: The complete paragraph is:

「花より団子」 お花見に行って、桜の花を見るより、そこで食べるおいしいだんごのほうがいい、外観よりも実際にためになることのほうがいい。

Where「花より団子」is a proverb being defined

  • Maybe 実際に as in ", actually," (with pauses) and ためになる as in "to be useful" (in reality; in contrast to outward appearance) – siikamiika Jan 14 '17 at 22:19
  • Or actually you don't need the pauses for that "actually" to make sense. It can just strengthen being useful. – siikamiika Jan 14 '17 at 22:30
  • @jon Are you sure that translation is correct? – user3856370 Jan 14 '17 at 22:30
  • @user3856370 Its not an exact translation, it's to give a general idea. It's making a comparison between two things and stating that people prefer one rather than the other – Jon Jan 14 '17 at 22:37
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「外観{がいかん}よりも実際{じっさい}にためになることのほうがいい。」

From your question title "How to parse にためになる", it is clear that you are already parsing the middle part of the phrase incorrectly.

It is 「実際に + ためになる」. ⇒ ("beneficial in a practical sense")

It is not 「実際 + にためになる」. ⇒ Makes little sense.

The phrase in question is making a comparison between two things:

1) 「外観」⇒ "the appearnace" ⇒ flower viewing

2) 「実際にためになること」⇒ "the beneficial thing in a practical sense" ⇒ eating dango

and it is saying that 2) is better than 1).

Thus, this sums up the meaning of the well-known saying 「花{はな}より団子{だんご}」.

「ためになる」 should be remembered as it is used very often. It basically means "good-fo-ya".

  • So the に in 実際に means something like "sense" or "in a sense"? – Jon Jan 15 '17 at 3:48
  • No, of course not. That is just a translation to make it sound good in the target language (English). に enables 実際 to function adverbially so that 実際に can modify the verb phrase ためになる. ~~に functions adverbially and ~~の functions adjectivally. – l'électeur Jan 15 '17 at 4:14
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外観よりも(実際に)ためになることのほうがいい

This is how I would parse it:

外観よりも in comparison to appearance
実際に in reality/for practical purposes
ためになることのほうが act of being useful side
いい is good

Or in other words:

In reality, being useful is better than apperance.
In practice, It's better to be useful than to look good.

Which is not quite the same as your TL.

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