Mass nouns and counts nouns. Does getting it wrong ever matter?

Less/fewer, too much/too many, amount/number… When people get these things wrong, it bugs me. But I cannot think of a situation where mistaking a mass noun for a count noun (or vice versa) would ever introduce any kind of ambiguity.

Is there such a case?

Answer

I think you are correct in that if a noun is unambiguously mass or count then the qualifier doesn’t matter, the meaning can be taken from the noun.

However compare: I ate too much fish vs. I ate too many fish.

If the noun is ambiguous in that way, then the meaning must be taken from the qualifier. So if you mistook “fish” for a term that was always mass or common, then you could produce an ambiguous statement.

(Inspired by Shinto’s example)

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Seamus , Answer Author : cindi

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