"There are so many kinds of carpet, I just don't know where to start!"
A good and easy place to start is how it's made. Almost all carpet is either woven or tufted.

The pile (for beauty) and the backing (for stability) come together simultaneously on a loom. Refined for centuries, weaving is the method by which the ultimate quality carpets are made.

In this modern development, loops of yarn are inserted (tufted) into a pre-woven backing. Tufting brings versatility to designers and affordability to buyers. By far, most carpeting sold today is tufted.

Now, let's look at the Three Basic Categories of tufted carpet.

Cut Pile
Cut Pile carpet has the loops of yarn sheared evenly, forming tufts with blunt ends. The characteristics of the yarn, such as twist and crimp, and the density of tuft placement make various styles of cut pile carpet look, feel and perform differently.

Loop Pile
Loop Pile carpet has loops that are not cut, forming tufts that bend over into the backing. Twist and density have a lot to do with how these look and perform, too. Generally, they are good for higher traffic areas.

Cut & Loop
Cut and Loop carpet has both types of tufts. (This is getting simpler isn't it?) You find Cut & Loop carpets in both formal and casual settings. Traditional design themes, expressed in the interplay of light on cut and looped pile, offer rich visual experiences.

So, the Three Basic Categories of Tufted Carpet Are. . .