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Quick answer
"Encima de la mesa" is a phrase which is often translated as "on the table", and "en" is a preposition which is often translated as "in". Learn more about the difference between "encima de la mesa" and "en" below.
encima de la mesa(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (general)
a. on the table
Creí haber dejado los lentes encima de la mesa, pero no están.I thought I left my glasses on the table, but they're not there.
b. on top of the table
Gladys se subió encima de la mesa y se puso a bailar.Gladys climbed on top of the table and started dancing.
c. on the desk
Silvio tenía una foto de su esposa encima de la mesa.Silvio had a picture of his wife on the desk.
d. on top of the desk
Me gusta tener mucho espacio, así que solo quiero la computadora encima de la mesa, nada más.I like to have plenty of space so I just want the computer on top of the desk, nothing else.
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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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