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Quick answer
"Encima" is an adverb which is often translated as "above", and "sobre" is a preposition which is often translated as "on". Learn more about the difference between "encima" and "sobre" below.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (not touching)
a. above
El espejo está encima de la silla.The mirror is above the chair.
2. (on a surface)
a. on top
El correo está encima de la mesa.The mail is on top of the table.
b. on
La ropa está encima de la cama.The clothes are on the bed.
3. (in time)
a. right around the corner (idiom)
Las elecciones están encima.The elections are right around the corner.
4. (figurative)
a. on top of that
Elizabeth llegó tarde y encima no había hecho la tarea.Elizabeth arrived late and on top of that hadn't done her homework.
b. besides that
Me dio diez dólares de pago y cinco más encima.He gave me ten dollars as payment and another five besides that.
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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. (atop)
a. on
¡No pongas los pies sobre la mesa!Don't put your feet on the table!
2. (relating to)
a. about
La conferencia es sobre la tecnología.The conference is about technology.
3. (above)
a. over
El pájaro se alzó y voló sobre nuestras cabezas.The bird rose and flew over our heads.
4. (approximately)
a. about
Siguiendo la receta, debería tardar en cocinarse sobre ocho minutos.Following the recipe, it should take about eight minutes to cook.
b. around
Mi clase tiene sobre 15 o 20 alumnos.My class has around 15 or 20 students.
A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
5. (cover)
a. envelope
Abrió rápidamente el sobre y sacó la carta de su interior.He tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter inside.
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
Regionalism used in Argentina
a. sack
A word or phrase that is commonly used in conversational speech (e.g. skinny, grandma).
En cuanto llegué, me metí en el sobre.As soon as I arrived, I hit the sack.
7. (handbag)
Regionalism used in Cuba
(River Plate)
a. clutch bag
Necesito un sobre que combine con mis zapatos plateados.I need a clutch bag to match my silver shoes.
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