My high school freshman English teacher David Knight gave our class an essay exam on each of the parts of speech and the major forms of punctuation. Don’t blame him if you find me grammatically incorrect. (To PC or not PC is another issue entirely.) So it was with a feeling of deja vu that I stumbled onto this blog entry from CSM’s Ruth Walker. In "Mass Confusion You Can Count On," Walker explains the difference between "mass" nouns and "count" nouns.
It’s sometimes enough to prompt a twinge of envy
within me at people laboring in fields where the tools have simpler
names, like "rake" or "hoe" or "shovel" or even "spade." It’s always
great to be able to call a spade a spade. And so I was thrilled a few years ago to discover that fellow wordsmiths use the simple straightforward terms "mass noun" and "count noun" to distinguish between, well – to distinguish between "stuff" and "things."
If that is not enough wordsmithing for you, check out her blog Verbal Energy, which features her Punctuation Boot Camp.