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Quick answer
"Encima de" is a phrase which is often translated as "on", and "por encima de" is a preposition which is often translated as "over". Learn more about the difference between "encima de" and "por encima de" below.
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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por encima de(
pohr
 
ehn
-
see
-
mah
 
deh
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (directly upwards from)
a. over
Vimos unas cigüeñas volando por encima del pueblo.We saw some storks flying over the town.
2. (at superior levels than)
a. above
La marea subió dos metros por encima de sus niveles normales.The tide rose two meters above its normal levels.
3. (superior in importance to)
a. before
Para mí, mi familia está por encima de todo.For me, my family comes before everything else.
b. above
Por encima de todo, no se lo cuentes a nadie.Above all, don't tell anybody.
4. (superior in rank to)
a. higher up than
Sólo la directora gerente está por encima de él.Only the managing director is higher up than he is.
5. (superior to)
a. higher than
Los resultados del test indican que su inteligencia está por encima de la media.The test results show that she has a higher than average intelligence.
6. (not bothered by)
a. beyond
Él está muy por encima de esas tonterías.He is well beyond that nonsense.
7. (in spite of)
a. despite
Se volvió artista por encima de la oposición de sus padres.She became an artist despite her parents' opposition.
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