In looking at many of the answers to ESL learner's questions about countable and uncountable nouns it seems that answers usually take the form "Uncountables can be become countables. There's no rule so you just have to memorize it. It's English, you know, deal with it." (said with an exasperated sigh.)
I think there is a rule. How else would we be able to generate sentences in situations that haven't been memorized?
My question is this: "Is it possible the rules are: 1)'When we omit the counter based on context, a normally uncountable noun will become countable by adding s or using countable grammar forms. and 2) A word can become uncountable if it also has an uncountable definition." (Rule two seems obvious however someone asked about "organic matter" or "organic matters" being tested at the lab.)
1) "I'll have two (glasses of) waters." (said in a restaurant.) 2) We sell many (loaves of / types of / kinds of) breads." (said at the bakery.) 3) "Do you want three (packets of) sugars?" (Said at Starbucks.) 4) "How many (sheets of) papers are stuck in the copier?" (Said in my office last week.) 5) "How many (pieces of) hairs were stuck on the camera sensor?" (said at B&H Photo.)
1) "We need three (instances of) approvals from the committee before construction can begin." or "My mother didn't give her approval to our lifestyle." 2) "I like having (many kinds of) choices at the grocery store." "Choice is what made America great."
On the the other hand, I can think of three instances where the rule breaks down: "Music," "Lint" "Equipment":
"I listened to 3 (types of) musics this morning." "Ask the butler to remove the (pieces of) lints from the sweater." "How many (kinds of) equipments does a SEAL need for a mission?"
Some omissions are just strange; "I gave the baby a teaspoon of apple." I think it should be "I gave the baby a teaspoon of apple sauce." because teaspoons hold liquids and powders not solid objects like (pieces of) apple.
There must be some sort of rule about what is acceptable communication when it comes to countable and uncountable nouns.