Table Setting Etiquette - Knowing When To Use The Right Utensil To Avoid Embarrassment!

Table setting etiquette can be a tricky thing...

What do you do when you are used to eating just a salad or a piece of chicken, and now you are sitting at a table with three large forks, two knives, four glasses, a small fork, and a small spoon? How in the world are you supposed to know what to do with each utensil and appear that you are sophisticated? 

Well, that is where we come in. This page is dedicated to knowing what to use each utensil for and look classy while you eat. Imagine how impressed everyone will be when you eat in style and do it the right way. Let's get to it!

Use this picture to match the letter to the description of each utensil. That way, you will know what you are supposed to do with each utensil and show your table setting etiquette. 

Table Setting Etiquette Diagram

Utensil Descriptions

A. Appetizer Fork - The fork to be used for the appetizer will always be the fork that is furthest to the left. 

B. Salad Fork - The salad fork will be placed to the left of the dinner fork if the salad is eaten before the main course. If the salad is eaten after the main course, then the salad fork will be after the dinner fork. 

C. Dinner Fork - You can always recognize the dinner fork because it is the largest of all the forks. If the main course comes after the salad, then this fork will be next to the service plate. 

D. Service Plate - The service plate is where the courses are served. Usually this plate will hold the other plates for the courses as they come. Proper table setting etiquette is to keep food off of this plate unless food is placed directly on it. 

E. Dinner Knife - This is to be used with the main course. The dinner knife is always to the right of the service plate. 

F. Second Knife - This knife is used for either the appetizer, or the salad as needed. 

G. Butter Plate - The butter plate is used to butter rolls/bread during the meal. You should also leave your bread/roll here when not being eaten. 

H. Butter Knife - Used to butter your bread/roll. After being used, it is proper to place it diagonally on the right side of the butter plate with the blade pointing away from you. 

I. Dessert Spoon - This is used for the dessert. 

J. Dessert Fork - This is also used for the dessert if needed. 

Soup Spoon (not shown in picture) - If a soup is being served, there will be a spoon to the right of the knives. This is used for the soup. 

K-O Glasses - The number of glasses you have will vary depending on what is being served with the meal. The water glass (M in this picture) is directly above the knives. There will be a champagne flute (K), a white wine glass (L), a red wine glass (N), and a dessert wine glass (O)., how do you use them and not look like a savage? 

Table Setting Etiquette

Basic Rule - Start at the outside and work in with the utensils. This will always be the case with any formal meal you eat. The silverware at the top of the plate are always for dessert. 

For the glasses, always start at the left and work to the right. That should keep things in their proper order. 

In many cases, there will be a napkin on the plate that is folded when you first sit down. To avoid social awkwardness, unfold the napkin and place it across your lap. This is good table setting manners. 

Do not clench your silverware like a hunter ready to consume your prey. Remember that formal meals are a social affair. This is more about art and grace than it is about eating. Show your class by chewing slowly, and using proper table etiquette. 

When you have finished eating, you should place the fork and knife side by side with each one pointing into the plate. So, the fork would be on the left pointing to the right and the knife would be in line with the fork pointing to the left. 

This style of eating is all about entertainment. Take your time and enjoy yourself. There is no reason to be uptight and worried. Everyone else is just as nervous as you are. In fact, if you relax and demonstrate your grace anyway, you will really win people over with your table setting etiquette.

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