Cocktail fork aka seafood forks, have three-prongs.  It is used when eating seafood served in a shell.  It is usually placed to the right of the soup spoon. However, the fork can be placed tines down in the bowl of the soup spoon, handle angled to the right.



Oyster fork  has three short, curved tines; the left tine is extra wide. You should hold the shell with your fingers and the fork is held in the other hand. Oyster forks are not used in formal dining.



The snail fork has two long pointed tines. In formal dining, snails are prepared without shells. In informal dining, snails are usually served in shells. When eating snails, use a metal tongs to steady the shell and the snail fork to extract the snail.





The lobster fork has long narrow tines. A lobster fork may have two long tines which end in hooks or with a long, narrow center tine and two hooked tines on either side.  The lobster shell is steadied in the hand and the lobster fork is held in the other hand.  When eating at a formal dinner, the lobster will be prepared in a way that you will not have to use your hands



The dinner fork is used to eat the main course at all formal and informal meals. It is positioned directly to the left of the plate.  


The American-size dinner fork, is approximately ½ inch shorter than the Continental/ European size. 




The salad fork is usually smaller than a dinner fork.  It has tines (tips) that are flatter and slightly broader than those of a dinner fork.


The salad fork is used in formal and informal dining. It may also be used for appetizer courses other than seafood.



The fish fork is used during a fish course.  It usually has a wide left tine with a notch in it. The design makes it easier for the fork to fit over fish bones.


The cake/dessert fork is used during the dessert course.  It is positioned horizontally above the main plate.



The dinner knife is the longest knife at a place setting.


When setting the table, the dinner knife should be directly (no more than one inch from) to the right of the plate. The blade should face the plate.


The knife should be held in one’s right hand.  Your index finger should extend on the top of the blade, while your thumb rests on the side of the knife.


A salad knife (which may be slightly smaller than the dinner knife) is located to the right of the dinner knife and should only be used when eating your salad course.


Fish knives vary in size.  The fish knife is a specialized shape and is normally not included in an average flatware set.


The fish knife is never used to cut food.  Its wide dull edge blade and notched point tip is used to separate and lift the bones and skin of fish onto the plate to make eating fish easier.


The fish knife is used in both formal and informal dining.


The butter knife, also called a spreader, is the smallest knife in a set of flatware.  The tip of the butter knife is rounded and some are slightly wider at the tip.




Smaller than a tablespoon, teaspoons are used with tea or other hot beverages.  The primary use of a teaspoon is to stir in sugar and/or milk into the beverages.  You may see teaspoons used in lieu of a dessert spoon.


The tablespoon is a large spoon used for serving food. and sometimes for eating soup.


A demitasse spoon is smaller than a teaspoon. The demitasse spoon is used exclusively with espresso cups.  Espresso cups are half the size of an average coffee cup. 


The ice cream spoon is rarely seen in most homes.  It is designed specifically for eating ice cream. The spoon's blunt tip makes it easier to scoop hard ice cream.


The grapefruit spoon has a serrated tip and sharp edges.

It is usually the size of a teaspoon. The tip and sharp edge make it easier to pull the fruit away from the pith and rind.


The grapefruit spoon may be used with other citrus (citron, lemon, lime and orange).


Iced tea spoons have long handles so that they may be easily used with tall glasses.


The spoon is used with ice cream floats or any drink or food that is served in a tall glass.


You will not see this spoon in a place setting.  The spoon will be brought to you only after you order an iced tea, float, sundaes, etc.


Bouillon Spoon

The bouillon spoon bowl is smaller and the handle is shorter than a cream spoon. The bouillon spoon is traditionally used at luncheons. 

Bouillon: Broth is made by stewing meat, fish, or vegetables.



Cream Soup Spoon

The cream soup spoon has a long handle to reach into a cream soup bowl which tends to be deeper then an average soup bowl. The round bowl of the spoon fits the shape of the cream soup bowl. The spoon is wide so one may sip from the side of the spoon.


It should be noted that a cream soup may be eaten directly from a cream soup bowl without using a spoon.  Simply place your index finger through the handle of the cream soup bowl and your thumb just above it to support the grip.  Place your second finger below the handle and your little finger should follow the curve of the other fingers and should not be elevated. Cream Soup: Any type of soup that is prepared by adding cream at the end of the cooking process.



Oval Soup Spoon

The oval soup spoon should be used when eating soup with meat, vegetables, grains, and pasta. It is about the size of a tablespoon, only the bowl is a little smaller and the handle is shorter. The oval soup spoon is used differently in formal and informal dining.