You’ve been using your knife and fork all wrong – Etiquette expert reveals


New research has revealed that an alarming 40 per cent of us don’t know how to use a knife and fork correctly, meaning there could be many faux pas in the offing.

To help out hapless diners, etiquette expert Jo Bryant has broken down all your cutlery queries, from how to hold utensils properly to the times when it’s acceptable to ditch your knife and just use a fork.

‘When it comes to good table manners and etiquette, it is easy to feel daunted. Whether we are trying new cuisines, curbing bad habits, remembering the basics or managing tricky situations, it can seem like there is a lot to get right,’ she explained.

‘However, the aim of good table etiquette is simply the essence of good manners: to behave with consideration, thought and respect towards fellow diners – as you would expect them to behave towards you.’


According to research by 40 per cent of Brits do not know the most accepted technique for using a knife and fork.

So if you’ve been gripping your cutlery with your hands wrapped around the centre of the handle, you may need to consult Jo’s Meerkat Meals Simples Etiquette Guide

According to Jo, the correct way to brandish cutlery is to hold your knife with the index finger along the top of the handle.

And forks should be held with the tines pointing downwards with your index finger on the handle.


‘You should not cut up your food, then put down your knife and eat with just your fork – it’s correct to use both the knife and fork, or just a fork,’ Jo said.

However, there are some occasions when it’s acceptable to just eat with a fork, such as when you’re enjoying a bowl of spaghetti.

‘In this case, the fork should be held with the tines facing upwards, similar to a spoon,’ Jo explained.


If you feel overwhelmed when faced with lots of different sets of cutlery, there’s an easy way to navigate.

Cutlery is used from the outside inwards, so starter cutlery is placed on the outside and main course cutlery on the inside.

If soup is being served as a starter, then the soup spoon is placed to the right and outside of the main course knife.

Dessert cutlery is generally positioned across the top of the place setting, with the bowl of the spoon pointing to the left and the tines of the fork to the right. Unless you’re at a formal banquet or dining with the Queen, when pudding spoons and forks are placed innermost to the knives and forks.

Side plates go to the left of the forks, usually with a butter knife and napkin.

Wine and water glasses go to the top right of the setting.

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