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Quick answer
"En" is a preposition which is often translated as "in", and "a la mesa" is a phrase which is often translated as "to the table". Learn more about the difference between "en" and "a la mesa" below.
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (indicating place)
a. in
Hay comida ya preparada en el supermercado.There's ready-made food in the supermarket.
b. on
Puedes poner los cubiertos en la mesa. You can put the silverware on the table.
2. (indicating time)
a. on
En 1969, aterrizamos en la luna.In 1969, we landed on the moon.
3. (indicating mode)
a. in
Si un oso te persigue, corre en zigzag.If a bear is chasing you, run in a zig-zag formation.
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a la mesa(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (used to indicate direction)
a. to the table
¿Puedes llevar los cubiertos a la mesa, por favor?Can you take the cutlery to the table, please?
b. at the table
¿Quieres sentarte a la mesa de una vez? Estamos todos esperándote para empezar a comer.Will you sit at the table once and for all? We're all waiting for you to start eating.
2. (used to indicate position)
a. at the table
Cuando entré en el comedor, toda la familia estaba sentada a la mesa.When I came into the dining room, the whole family was sitting at the table.
3. (used to talk about the table)
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
A la mesa le cojea una pata.One of the table's legs is wobbly.
A la mesa le hace falta un mantel. - Sí, podemos comprarlo esta tarde.The table needs a tablecloth. - Yes, we can buy it this afternoon.
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