Which Hand Holds The Fork And Knife?

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When it comes to dining etiquette, knowing which hand holds the fork and knife is crucial. It not only showcases your dining skills but also reflects your cultural awareness. In this article, we will explore the proper way to hold your cutlery and delve into the customs and traditions associated with it.

The European and American Style

In European and American dining etiquette, the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right. The fork is used to spear and lift food, while the knife is used to cut and assist in pushing food onto the fork. After cutting a piece of food, the knife is placed on the edge of the plate, with the blade facing inwards.

This style is known as the “continental style” or “American style” and is widely practiced in most formal dining settings. It allows for a smooth transition between cutting and eating, as the fork remains in the left hand throughout the meal.

The British Style

In contrast, the British style involves holding the fork in the right hand and the knife in the left. Unlike the European and American style, the knife is used to both cut and guide the food onto the fork. Once the food is cut, the fork is transferred to the right hand to bring the food to the mouth.

This style is often referred to as the “British style” or “zig-zag method” and is commonly practiced in the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that this style is less prevalent in formal dining situations but may still be encountered in more casual settings.

Regional Variations

While the European, American, and British styles are the most widely recognized, it’s important to acknowledge that there are regional variations across the globe. In some Asian cultures, for example, chopsticks are the primary utensils used for eating, rendering the fork and knife less relevant.

Furthermore, customs may vary within countries themselves. In the United States, for instance, the American style is generally followed, but some individuals may opt for the British style due to personal preference or cultural background.

Evolving Etiquette

It’s worth noting that dining etiquette is not set in stone and can evolve over time. With globalization and cultural influences, the way we hold our cutlery can vary depending on the context and personal preference. In more casual settings, it is becoming increasingly acceptable to adapt and mix different styles.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of dining etiquette is to be mindful and considerate of others at the table. Whether you choose the European, American, British, or a mixed style, the goal is to enjoy your meal while respecting the cultural norms and customs associated with it.


Knowing which hand holds the fork and knife is an essential aspect of dining etiquette. While the European and American style typically involves holding the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, the British style reverses this order. It’s important to be aware of these customs and adapt accordingly, keeping in mind that regional variations and individual preferences may exist. As etiquette evolves, the crucial element is to be considerate and respectful of others while enjoying your meal.