EP word of the week (#113): folha de cálculo

Even if for some people August means fun and games, for others it’s yet another month you spend working while other people are having fun. Yes, it’s true that you may have already had your vacations, or that your time is still to come (and we should all acknowledge those thoroughout the world whose work conditions don’t allow them the right to rest in such a fashion), but the fact is that it is also a working month.

All of this to introduce today’s Word of the week, the reliable and hopefully helpful spreadsheet. In Portugal, they’re known as [a] folha de cálculo (calculation sheet), while in Brazil the preferred term is [a] planilha eletrônica or [a] planilha de cálculoEletrônica (eletrónica in EP) because this is a very much contemporary invention, only possible on such a large scale through the use of computers; even though the terms [a] folha/planilha de cálculo could potentially also refer to paper accounting worksheets, the fact that these have been superceded by the electronic variant means that in most contests, there’s not a lot of confusion regarding the nature of the term.

Folha de cálculo
Uma folha de cálculo em/no Excel. An Excel spreadsheet.

As I mentioned in a Grammar Tips article about gender in tech words[o] Microsoft Office and all its component programmes are masculine in gender. Just like in English, they are so well known that you can drop the “Microsoft” and still be understood (and the same does for [o] Office). For example, [o] Microsoft Excel or [o] Excel (see above) are equally valid options to refer to Microsoft’s spreadsheet application.

That said, when you’re using the programme as a means (i.e. as a substitute for the medium, the actual spreadsheet), you generally wouldn’t use the definite article, hence “em” Excel in the caption above. If you’re talking about the specific programme, Microsoft Excel, then the article becomes relevant again.


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