Quick answer
"Dentro de" is a preposition which is often translated as "inside", and "encima de" is a phrase which is often translated as "on". Learn more about the difference between "dentro de" and "encima de" below.
dentro de(
dehn
-
troh
 
deh
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (in the interior)
a. inside
Mi perro duermo dentro de su jaula.My dog sleeps inside his cage.
b. within
Hay varios restaurantes de comida rápida dentro del centro comercial.There are several fast food restaurants within the mall.
c. in
Puse la carta dentro del buzón para que el cartero la recoja.I placed the letter in the mailbox for the mailman to pick up.
2. (time limit)
a. in
¡Dentro de una semana, estaré de camino a Sacramento!In one week, I will be on my way to Sacramento!
b. within
El trabajo deberá estar listo dentro del plazo que especifique el profesor.The assignment should be ready within the deadline the teacher specifies.
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encima de(
ehn
-
see
-
mah
 
deh
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (on the surface of)
a. on
¿De quién son esos libros que hay encima del sofá? - Son míos, ahora los quito.Whose books are those on the sofa? - They're mine. I'll take them off in a minute.
b. on top of
Las llaves están encima de la mesa.The keys are on top of the table.
2. (over)
a. above
Vivimos en el apartamento encima de la tienda.We live in the apartment above the store.
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