ideas about illegal immigration have oscillated

Kanken J.

Member
Mandarin - Mainland China
Hi there

A quick question on how to use the verb "oscillate": which one of the following two sentences sounds more natural?

American presidents' ideas about illegal immigration have always oscillated.
or
American presidents have always oscillated in their stance on illegal immigration.

According to many corpora and dictionaries, "oscillate between A and B" seems the only collocation that can be used after "oscillate". But what if I want to use "oscillate" to describe somebody's attitude to/stance on something sways?

If neither of the above two sounds natural, could you suggest another one with "oscillate"?

Thanks!
 
Last edited:
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    According to many corpora and dictionaries, "oscillate between A and B" seems the only collocation that can be used after "oscillate". But what if I want to use "oscillate" to describe somebody's attitude to/stance on something sways?
    Sways in what way? If the movement is obvious, such as a violin string vibrating at its natural frequency, then "oscillate" is fine without any other information, but usually we need to know something more about the oscillation, such as its range and sometimes its frequency. This is why it is mostly used with "between".

    What are you trying to say in your sentences? It seems unlikely to me that any American president ever supported illegal immigration, so I get no sense of what it is that you are trying to say. Are you sure that you want to use the word "illegal"?
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I agree that your meaning isn't clear and I'm not sure oscillate is an appropriate choice anyway.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    American presidents have always oscillated in their stance on illegal immigration.

    It seems to say two things that I would imagine are not true.
    (1) All American presidents have changed their stance on illegal immigration.
    (2) They have always swayed back and forth, being in turn tolerant and and intolerant of illegal immigration.

    Individual presidents have in fact changed their public views about illegal immigration over time, (which is not surprising).
     
    Top