Nouns seem like a basic concept in English, but like everything else in English grammar, they seem to confuse the heck out of most people.
I broach this topic after watching a segment of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (sadly, few adults are), which featured a question asking the contestant to name the three proper nouns in a sample sentence.
Ms. Contestant, a college graduate with a 3.5 GPA, stumbled all over the place before finally agreeing with a fifth grader and getting it right. (She was ready to pronounce two of the proper nouns to be pronouns; the fifth grader knew better and was smarter.)
Okay, what is a noun?
A noun is a word for a person, place, thing or concept. (A proper noun is a proper name for one of these, such as John for man, New York for city, and so on.)
Now, what gets tricky about nouns is their multitasking nature. They can function as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, subject complements, object complements, appositives, adjectives and adverbs.
Whatever their function, nouns should be easily recognizable, but as evidenced by Ms. Contestant, people get confused.
How many nouns in the above paragraph?
If you answered four, you found function, nouns, contestant and people hopefully.
If not, go back to fifth grade. LOL