Classifier languages are often described as lacking genuine number morphology and treating all common nouns, including those conceptually count, as an unindividuated mass. This study argues that neither of these popular assumptions is true, and presents new generalizations and analyses gained by abandoning them.I claim that no difference exists between classifier and non-classifier languages regarding the semantics of either nouns or numerals. Common nouns universally denote properties and are individuated, contra Chierchia (1998). I argue that classifier languages in fact make the most fine-grained basic number distinction, i.e. a three-way distinction of `singular (SG) : plural (PL) : general (GN)'. Classifiers are analyzed as a sophisticated kind of singular number morphology. Classifier languages have genuine plural markers (Chung 2000). Importantly, I consider general number, which is associated with number-neutral properties, as a universally available basic number category, along with singular and plural. Optional number marking follows from the three-way distinction number system, where the general is morphologically unmarked.
While classifier languages distinguish all basic number categories, non-classifier languages conflate one or more of them morphologically. Languages can be classified into five types according to this criterion: (i) SG : GN : PL, (ii) SG/GN : GN/PL, (iii) SG/GN : PL, (iv) SG : GN/PL, and (v) SG/GN/PL. The difference between classifier and non-classifier languages reduces not to semantics (Krifka 1995; Chierchia 1998; Wilhelm 2008) or syntax (Li 1999), but to a difference in number morphology. The proposed number system and typology make it possible to account for bare "singular" kind terms in type (ii) languages (e.g. Brazilian Portuguese), a problem to Dayal's (2004) theory of number and definiteness marking in kind terms.