If I wanted to translate the prepositional phrase "on the bed" to Chinese, I know to say "床上", but I don't know what the translation would be for saying "above/over the bed".

From what I can gather, 上 is used for both "on" and "over". Is there another word that removes the ambiguity, or some modifier?

  • 1
    Perhaps one of these is correct: 上边, 以上, or 上面. Let's see if someone will enlighten us! :) Dec 13, 2011 at 21:55
  • @drHannibalLecter: See my attempt to address your point below.
    – Tom Au
    Aug 18, 2012 at 18:29

5 Answers 5


"above/over the bed" can be translated as "在床的上面" or "在床的上方" without any ambiguity.

  • 1
    it still has some ambiguity. Think 人在床上面 and 挂在床上方.
    – Alex Chen
    Dec 14, 2011 at 1:54
  • 2
    Could you expand this answer a bit? Answers are better when they provide more than just a simple one-line answer.
    – Alenanno
    Mar 4, 2012 at 0:09

I would suggest you need to add more context such as:

Hanging over the bed


Hovering (floating) over the bed

Even in English above the bed still requires more info to make a complete sentence. I think the context is important here.

  • I agree with you. It is the context that helps differentiates the two.
    – 杨以轩
    Jul 30, 2012 at 3:57

There may not be a definitive way to convey these differences.

"在床上" is "on the bed", to really eliminate the ambiguity, you could say "就在床面上" ("right on the surface of the bed") or "就在床单上" ("right on the sheets of the bed").

And use "在床的上方" to say "above the bed", or more specifically, "就在床上方的空气里" ("right in the thin air above the bed").


It's touched by the other answers but not as explicit: in Chinese, disambiguation is mostly done by nouns/verbs rather than prepositions. So the answer is to use distinctive verbs depending on the context: 躺在床上(边/面) vs. 挂在床上(边/面/方) vs. 悬在床上(边/面/方). (躺在床上方 is also correct but against idiom.)


I would use 上 or 以上 for on top or (immediately) above, and 之上 or 上方 for over (more remote).

上面 refers to a surface, e.g. the top of a table or bed.

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