Etiquette Friday – How to Use Table Utensils in Britain

By Angela Marshall, 19th Oct 2012

It’s Friday and the day I request you join me in my campaign for 2012 to change “Casual Friday” to “Etiquette Friday”, to get people and companies involved. If we consciously make an effort every Friday then hopefully it will become a habit every day. I challenge you to make one small change a week and by the end of the year let’s hope we have a more pleasant and positive society.

How to Use Table Utensils

Where you live and how you have been brought up may well influence how you use your table utensils. Europeans eat differently to the Chinese and Americans.

Americans transfer the fork to their non-dominant hand and put the knife in their dominant hand. After the food is cut, they lay down the blade of the knife on the edge of the plate, and switch the fork back to their dominant hand to move the food to their mouth.

Chinese people generally use chopsticks.

British Manners

In Britain people are eating more fast food and due to this people can use their fingers far too often and forget to use their utensils. This is not regarded as good manners.


When eating at the table people are expected to use a knife and fork. The right hand holds the knife and cuts the food, whilst the fork is in the left hand, which collects the food and places it in the mouth.

When you have finished eating, lay your fork and knife side-by side so that the prongs and blade are slightly above the centre of the plate, and the handles are in the centre. If you plan to continue eating, lay down your fork, prongs downwards, and the knife next to it at a slight angle in the centre of the plate.

When a table is laid for several courses, it is correct to work your way inwards from the outside. When a fork and spoon is at the top (as in the picture) then use these for the dessert. These days,  restaurants often bring the appropriate cutlery for each course, so you don’t need to have the various layers.

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Welcome to Angela Marshall's Blog. Angela Marshall
"I am in the third phase of my life and having been a successful image consultant for 18 years, I now enjoy the freedom of blogging about life in general, especially fashion, grooming, etiquette and manners." Angela Marshall
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