Can anyone convert this passive voice to active voice, please. For my understanding. (I'm really confused with passive and active voice)

First of all, throughout history education has been reserved for those who have the most money.

  • Hello, Victor. You've chosen an example where (I'll stick my neck out) no fluent Anglophone would dream of converting the passive to the active. But, just as an exercise, I'll attempt the transformation (though I'll have to 'recover' (or perhaps 'risk' is more appropriate) a subject. 'First of all, throughout history, those in authority (which corresponds in the main to those who have the most money) and those controlling the purse-strings (where different) have ensured that they have arranged things so that they have ... Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 10:16
  • provided education for the children of those who have the most money.' Not an exact match, and ridiculously bloated. Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 10:19
  • Welcome to EL&U, I don't believe that converting this sentence to active voice is desirable, or even possible. The reasons for this are: firstly that "education" is not an entity with any will of its own, that is education does not choose to reserve itself to the wealthy and, secondly, that there is no other agency which actively reserves education to the wealthy. Education was reserved to the wealthy, therefore, by more or less 'natural' circumstances which cannot easily be made into the subject of the verb 'reserve'. If you can't find a subject you can't convert to active voice.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 10:29
  • @EdwinAshworth: You could introduce a "dummy" subject. throughout history we have reserved education for those who have the most money. It wouldn't really match the slightly hifalutin tone of the original, but taking account of the fact that this is an "Us and Them" comment on social inequality, ...they've reserved... Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 11:39
  • @FF Who're you calling a dummy? I voted pro-egality. Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


As noted in the comments, the difficulty with transforming passive voice to active voice is the need for a subject. In your example, who is reserving history education for those with money? Is it the rich themselves? Is it those in authority? Is it us in some sense? Once you're able/willing to identify a subject, converting to active voice becomes pretty straightforward.

This is why passive voice is used: To avoid assigning responsibility of the action to a specific agent. This might be because there's no one responsible agent, or the responsible agent is irrelevant, or you don't want to cast blame.

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