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must the subject of the sentence be an any kind of noun.

Re: Noun

No, the subject of a sentence can belong to quite a few categories:

Ed likes drinking beer. (noun phrase)
Under the mat isn't a good place to leave the key. (preposition phrase)
That they refused didn't surprise us. (declarative content clause)
What caused the delay remains a mystery. (interrogative content clause)
To turn back now would be a mistake. (to-infinitival clause)
Bringing your dad along was a good idea. (gerund-participial clause)