More than just table manners: Dining Etiquette 101

FOOD & DRINK

Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you always chew with your mouth closed and keep your elbows off the table? Do you cross your knife and fork over your plate to signal that you are done eating? If you do all of this, and more, you could probably pass Etiquette 101, but there's so much more to remember. If you think you know all there is to know about dining etiquette, then this is the quiz for you. Let's get started to find out if you could really dine with the Queen or if you are better suited for the King.... Burger King, that is.

Let's be serious, most of us don't even come close to observing proper dining etiquette every time we sit down at the table. But even if we don't use these skills often, knowing the rules can make all the difference between fitting in at a formal dinner party and looking like you were raised by wolves. So, even if you don't ever plan on using proper table manners, learn and practice them occasionally. You never know when the Queen could show up for a spot of tea.

If you think you could hang with the Brits, take this dining etiquette quiz to see if you would really fit in.

Which item should you keep off the table?

If it's not food, or your napkin, keep it off the table.

Advertisement

How much should you tip?

In the U.S., it's polite to tip 15 to 20 percent for satisfactory service. If you thought things were above and beyond, take it up to 25 percent.

Advertisement

When is tea time, traditionally?

Although it often falls between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., tea time is traditionally at 4 p.m.

Advertisement

Where should you keep your left hand during a meal?

In the U.S., it's polite to keep your left hand in your lap, unless you need to use it.

Advertisement

What's considered a no-no when you're using chopsticks?

It's polite to avoid doing all of these things with your chopsticks, as well as skewing food, pointing with them and more.

Advertisement

Which glass is usually larger at a formal dinner?

If you're attending a formal dinner, you'll see your water goblet is larger than the red wine and white wine glasses.

Advertisement

Which fork do you use, when?

It's best policy to work from the outside-in when choosing which silverware to use.

Advertisement

In a restaurant, when is it polite to begin eating?

When eating with others in a restaurant, it's polite to wait until everyone is served before beginning to eat.

Advertisement

Which type of sushi should be eaten in one bite?

Maki rolls, nigiri sushi and sashimi are all supposed to be eaten as one bite.

Advertisement

Where is it impolite to eat with your left hand?

In some countries, including India, parts of Africa, and those in the Middle East, it's impolite to eat with your left hand.

Advertisement

Who pays?

The person who does the inviting (the host) is the person who pays.

Advertisement

What always gets passed together?

Please pass the salt -- and pepper. The pair is always passed together.

Advertisement

Which part of the stemware should you hold on a wine glass?

When you drink from a stemmed glass, hold the stem.

Advertisement

Placing your fork and knife where indicates to the waiter you've finished?

Following American style, when finished with your meal, you should place your fork and knife together (parallel, not crossed) at the 11 o’clock position on your plate. Fork tines should be facing up.

Advertisement

When should you use a round soup spoon, as opposed to an oval one?

The spoon shape depends on the consistency of the soup you're eating. A round soup spoon is good for eating purees, broths or clear soaps. An oval spoon, on the other hand, can handle hearty soups that contain pieces of food, such as minestrone.

Advertisement

Could you actually catch germs from double dipping?

You don't have to have a fever, cough or sneeze to pass on germs. In fact, strains of streptococcus, prevotella and veillonella all live in a healthy person’s mouth. Researchers have found double-dipping chips significantly increases the level of germs in the dip. Don't be the next Typhoid Mary; don't double dip.

Advertisement

You're attending a dinner party and you'd like to add some salt to your dish. What do you do?

Never reach. And never intercept a salt shaker pass. If you need the salt -- or anything else from the table -- ask for it to be passed to you.

Advertisement

Where will you find the dinner knife?

The dinner knife is the knife closest to the right side of the plate. From outside-in, you'll find your soup spoon, teaspoon, salad knife, and then, the dinner knife.

Advertisement

When you stand up to use the restroom where should you place your napkin?

Place your napkin on the seat of your chair when you stand up.

Advertisement

When should you place your napkin on your lap?

As soon as you're seated, it's time to place your napkin on your lap.

Advertisement

Which seat at the table is considered the "place of honor"?

The "place of honor" is the seat to the right of the host.

Advertisement

Within how many days of receiving a dining invitation should you RSVP?

Aim to RSVP to an invitation within 3 days of receiving it.

Advertisement

What's true after you use a utensil?

Once you've used a utensil, you shouldn't set it back down on the table. Instead, rest it on the side of your plate.

Advertisement

What does "BMW" stand for?

BMW is a mnemonic way to remember that the proper order, from left to right, is bread, then meal, then water.

Advertisement

When should you arrive for a 7 p.m. dinner date?

Aim to arrive for dinner about 10 minutes early, about 6:50 p.m.

Advertisement

Which is the salad fork?

The salad fork is the outermost fork, next to the dinner fork, on the left side of the plate.

Advertisement

How often should you use your napkin while dining?

It's best to use your napkin every two or three bites.

Advertisement

Should you bring your cocktail glass to the dinner table?

It's best to leave any cocktail glasses and small plates where they were served.

Advertisement

Which is not a polite way to collect unwieldly peas on your plate?

Refrain from mashing them up and spooning them into your mouth.

Advertisement

What's the correct way to finish the following sentence: "Bring your 1.____ to your 2.____, not your 3.____ to the 4.____"?

The correct version is, "bring your food to your face, not your face to the food." (1. food; 2. face; 3. face; 4. food)

Advertisement

In what direction should dishes be passed at your holiday dinner?

Always pass the potatoes in a a counter-clockwise direction (that's the opposite direction as a clock).

Advertisement

Putting no more than how much soup in a soup spoon will avoid spills?

Resist going all the way to the top and keep your soup spoon only 2/3 full.

Advertisement

How much wine should you pour?

It depends. If it's white wine or rosé, the glass should be 1/3 full (which is 3 ounces). But if it's red wine, fill the glass halfway (about 4 ounces).

Advertisement

If your guest orders an appetizer or dessert, should you?

Always. It's impolite to leave your guest eating alone, so try to match courses 1-for-1.

Advertisement

You're running about 20 minutes late for your dinner reservations. What shouldn't you do?

Arriving any more than 15 minutes late is a no-no. Always call when you'll be late.

Advertisement

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes