Senior Member
If I'm going to describe a person who is on the edge of being drowned and struggling to the surface, I say he keeps dipping and bobbing up, does it make sense to you, also, does the "dip" imply he would rise to the surface - because "dip" gives me this impression as in dip chips in ketchup? I mean if I don't add "bob up", do you think he would fall to the bottom right away?

Thanks for help.

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    Senior Member
    American English
    You can't use dip except with your chips. Maybe talk about him sinking and fighting his way back to the surface – you can even use this image repeatedly if it's an ongoing struggle between fatigue and fight. When you use rising, I don't expect much action or movement on the part of the person – which will not be true with a person who's drowning and trying to stay alive.


    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I wouldn’t use “dipping” here as, to me, it implies his is going under the surface intentionally.

    I think I’d say he “keeps sinking under the surface and bobbing (back) up again”


    Senior Member
    American English
    Corks bob but don't sink. Sinkers sink but don't bob. I don't think you can alternately do both unless you're in some sort of equilibrium, delicately balanced enough in terms of weightlessness that the motion of a wave could send you down a bit, but once the wave passed you bobbed to the surface again. I wouldn't see this as a description of what happens with a drowning person ... speaking from experience. :D