In an article about how to deal with food poisoning, from the castellano website Hola.com, I read the following sentence:

La solución se debe empezar a beber en cantidades pequeñas cada hora o 2 horas, según se vaya tolerando.

Question: Even though I understand the meaning of the sentence, could you please help to explain grammatically the use of these two "se" in the sentence? My assumptions:

  1. "La solución se debe empezar a beber" - Here I guess either reflexive "deberse" is used or passive voice is used (...must be started to drink). I tend more towards passive...

  2. "Se vaya tolerando" - I know the construction "ir + present progressive" for cases when you start or gradually doing something ("Voy comprendiendo la verdad - I am starting to understand the truth"). As for my sentence, it could mean "as you gradually tolerate more and more of the drink".

  • 1
    You could think of it like this: One should start taking the solution in small amounts or The solution should be taken starting in small amounts. (I personally am not the greatest when it comes to grammar terminology, so someone else might contradict me on this -- but I do think of this as being equivalent to the passive voice.) Jan 13 '20 at 3:53

Good job, you are right in all your interpretations:

Both uses of se are passive constructions (pasiva refleja). These are more convoluted then the standard examples, but both clauses are equivalent to a sentence in the passive voice:

  • La solución debe empezar a ser bebida...

  • ... segun vaya siendo tolerada.

In these convoluted cases, it is even more true that the constructions using se are more natural and idiomatic.

As you say, the clause "se vaya tolerando" uses "ir + gerundio" to mean that the solution is gradually more and more tolerated.

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