How to Use Cutlery

A knife should be held firmly in your right hand, with the handle tucked into your palm, your thumb down one side of the handle and your index finger along the top (but never touching the top of the blade). It should never be eaten off or held like a pencil.

When used with a knife or spoon, the fork should be held in the left hand, in much the same way as the knife, with the prongs facing downwards. On its own, it is held in the right hand, with the prongs facing upwards, resting on the fingers and secured with the thumb and index finger.

A spoon is held in the right hand, resting on the fingers and secured with the thumb and index finger. Food should be eaten off the side of the spoon; it should never be used at a right angle to the mouth.

When eating, bring the fork or spoon to the mouth, rather than lowering the head towards the food. Bring the food promptly to the mouth and do not gesticulate with the knife and fork.

Cutlery should be rested on the plate/bowl between bites, and placed together in the bottom-centre when you are finished.

Never gesture with your cutlery, and don't scrape or clatter it noisily against your plate or bowl. Equally, it is bad manners to loudly clank your utensils against your teeth.

laying the table

Whether it is a formal dinner or a much more casual occasion, the basic rules do not vary when laying the table. Give each person as much elbow room as the table permits. Leave an even amount of space between places. Knives and spoons go on the right, forks on the left. Formally, it is correct always to lay side plates – even if they are not going to be used – with the napkins simply folded on them.

The range of a cutlery arsenal will depend on the formality of the occasion, but the layout should always be the same - fork to the left, knives and spoons to the right. Work from the outside inwards, course by course, finishing with pudding implements. Pudding spoons and forks may sit above the place setting on less formal occasions, or may be brought out when the main course has been cleared.

Always eat puddings with a spoon and fork (both should always be laid); the spoon should be a dessert spoon. Ice cream may be eaten with a teaspoon, or a long teaspoon if served in a tall glass. Sorbet, served between courses, is eaten with a teaspoon.

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