"La donna è sopra il cavallo."
Translation:The woman is on top of the horse.
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"Sopra" and "sul", in this context have the same meaning... usually you can use "sopra" or "su" as you like more... in Italian, many times we use "su" instead of "sopra" because it's shorter. I'm downstairs, "vado di sopra" (I'm going upstairs), "vado su" (I'm going upstairs), same meaning. "Dove sei?" (Where are you?), "sono di sopra/sono su" (I'm upstairs). "Dove hai messo il quadro?" (Where did you put the painting?). "Il quadro è sopra la sedia" (the painting is over the chair). In this case we're saying that the painting doesn't touch the chair. "Il quadro è sulla sedia" (the painting is on the chair). It means that the painting touches the chair. Hope it's helpful.
This is false and arguable because all this aspects:
Essere sometimes is translated as to have or haber: Luigi è sempre stato un bambino intelligente. Luigi has always been an intelligent child. Luigi ha siempre sido un niño inteligente.
Or stare is translated as to feel or estar: Come stai dopo il tuo incidente? How do you feel after your accident? ¿Cómo estás después de tu accidente?
Or stare can be translated as to be: Domani stiamo a casa. Tomorrow we are at home. Mañana estamos en casa.
Other example like the previous one but with gerund: Il generale stava scrivendo il bollettino di guerra. The general was writing the war bulletin. El general estaba escribiendo el boletín de guerra.
Or stare as to get: Lucia si sta vestendo. Lucia is getting dressed. Lucía se está vistiendo.
Or stare as to fit: Quante persone ci stanno in un autobus? How many people fit in a bus? ¿Cuántas personas pueden estar (I caben) en un autobús?
Or stare as to agree: Non mi sembra giusto, non ci sto! It doesn't seem fear to me, I don't agree. No me parece justo, no lo acepto.
In short, this demonstrates that English and Italian are very different, and essere is more like ser than to be; and stare is more like estar the to stay. As Spanish is a romance language is logical to be more similar to Italian than English could be, English may be similar to German or Dutch.
"The woman is on top of the horse" sounds strange. In the right context, it could work as noted by rogercchristie but it would practically never be used to say that "the woman is on the horse" or "the woman is riding the horse," etc. "The woman is atop the horse" would also sound better.
I realize that we're learning that sopra means above, over, or on top of, so rather than correcting the translation for this sentence, a new example should be created.
The woman is "on top of the horse" means she has climbed on it (with difficulty) and finally reached the head !