I'm trying to write a numbered vertical list. The items are not complete sentences.

Can you use a semicolon to connect two fragments that are one item?

  1. Receive guests; entertain guests

Or, should it be written as the following?

  1. Receive guests and entertain guests

I looked at 6.130: Vertical lists—capitalization, punctuation, and format in The Chicago Manual of Style. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anything about using semicolons to connect fragments that are one item.

Edit: Receiving and entertaining guests have to be one item. I guess you could just write "receive and entertain guests" but I wanted to make it clear that it wasn't one continuous act.

Edit 2: Took out an unnecessary part. Also, the problem has been solved. Someone has kindly told me that the "fragments" are not fragments but imperative sentences! It means that the item consists of two complete sentences. So, it could be written as one of the following.

  1. Receive guests; entertain guests.
  2. Receive guests, and entertain guests.
  3. Receive guests and entertain guests.

Edit 3: In the comments, I've explained why I thought that receiving guests and entertaining guests were not one continuous thing.

  • 4
    Why wouldn't it be "Receive and entertain guests", since it is a single item?
    – wetcircuit
    Apr 18, 2019 at 13:47
  • Hello. Sorry, I've edited my question. I want to write "Receive guests; entertain guests" so that it's clear that it isn't one continuous act. Also, receiving and entertaining guests have to be one item. Apr 18, 2019 at 15:29
  • Your edit doesn't make this any clearer. If it is a single item, then it doesn't make sense to turn it into two. Why not use receive and then entertain guests? (Your problem doesn't seem to be with semicolons or fragments, but with phrasing.) Apr 19, 2019 at 3:02
  • Thanks for the comment. I've edited my question again. Also, I've realized that it's just reception of guests. I was thinking "entertain guests" was the business entertainment of clients. But it makes no sense if it's taken that way. You're probably thinking of a duty of an employee of some kind of lodging business. It's about an ordinary business. Apr 19, 2019 at 7:42
  • @JasonBassford It's indeed "receive and entertain guests." That's the reception of guests. Am I right? Apr 19, 2019 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


I would be fine with either a comma or a semi-colon, although I think I'd prefer the semi-colon. Lists, particularly with sentence fragments, are pretty flexible in terms of content and punctuation. Just be consistent.

  • Thank you. Good to know that; I'll keep it in mind. Apr 18, 2019 at 16:42

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