A word like "water" can't be introduced by an indefinite article unless one adds a qualifying word (a water droplet). Grass is like this (a blade of grass, not "a grass" with grass being a noun). The use of the definite article seems to presume talking about a group or a pluralized, collective idea (implying the introduction of a preposition "of" after a 'none some all' qualifier - all OF the water, which means that ultimately, one is speaking about the plural grouping of that which can't be spoken of in the singular).

Is there a term for a word that can't be spoken of in the indefinite singular?

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    Waiter: "What would you like to drink?" Diner: "A water." – nnnnnn Nov 30 '20 at 11:07
  • A grass such as Eleusine coracana can be eaten, but another, Stipagrostis ciliata, cannot. – Michael Harvey Nov 30 '20 at 11:16
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    The thinking behind this needs correcting. Firstly from a linguistic perspective, count vs non-count usages of nouns ('Two coffees, please'; 'Coffee is available') need to be considered. Some nouns are rarely countified (water, uranium, advice ...) while some have special count usages (toasts, milks ...). Next, some nouns (pluralia tantum) don't have singular forms in some senses (pants, jeans). Next, some singular-form nouns take plural verb forms (police are looking for ...) while some plural-form nouns take singular verb forms (the news is not good). Then, singular-form nouns may ... – Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '20 at 11:53
  • be used (in non-count usages) to describe etically plural (ie that can be counted, more than one) referents (the furniture filled the room). Then there's the fact that the definition of 'count' CGEL (along with others) uses allows for indefinite articles before non-count usages in some contexts (She had a good knowledge of French / *She had two good knowledges ...). But all covered before on ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '20 at 11:53
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