Putting the Real Subject First
In a passive-voice sentence, the first element is usually the noun to which something has happened: “My coffee was spilled by the cat.” The real subject of the sentence, the cat, is at the end of the sentence, because the cat is the agent, explains the Purdue University Online Writing Lab. The telltale preposition phrase, “by the cat,” signals the passive voice. To convert it, flip the sentence around, removing the preposition “by” and simplifying the verb to “spilled.” The active-voice version starts with the agent: “The cat spilled my coffee.” In some cases, the passive voice obscures the agent -- the doer of the action -- by omitting the prepositional phrase; the Purdue University Online Writing Lab cites this example: “Mistakes were made.” Who made the mistakes? In your writing, do not conceal the subject: “We made mistakes,” might be correct if "we" is the subject; alternatively, say, “The trustees made mistakes,” if the trustees are the ones who made the mistakes.