Ok, 2nd attempt!

Following on from a convo I just had with a friend, who I found, like me, also holds a knife and fork the opposite way to most people (knife in the left hand and fork in the right). However, she is left-handed, and I'm right-handed. So I was curious to know how many other people do this (use opposite hands to their dominate one.)

Depending on whether you are left-handed or right-handed, do you hold your:


@GwenfarsGarden I reverse hands for my knife and fork, but only during the cutting action, afterwards I only use fork and go back to my right

@LiziPancake some have suggested that it's more an American thing to do this.

@GwenfarsGarden right-handed. I default to knife in right, fork in left hand, but I switch it around if I'm eating something that doesn't require cutting, just shoving stuff onto the fork with the knife, like pasta or stir fry.

@Anke @GwenfarsGarden I do the exact same thing.


If I don't need a knife at all, I just use a fork in my right hand

If I need a knife, it goes in my right hand and the fork is in my left hand (upside down). As a child, I used to put the knife down and switch my fork to my right hand to eat, now I leave the fork in my left hand the whole time.

Food craving 

@Anke @GwenfarsGarden

Now I want pancakes. That's what I remember eating when learned how to leave the fork in my left hand.

@stelepami @Anke it seems swapping around in this situation is fairly normal.

@GwenfarsGarden for me I do knife in the right and fork in the left, but that is from years and years of my grandmother yelling at me for doing it 'backwards' so I learned to do it that way and never changed back

@inmysocks I had a similar experience and was forced to the right-handed, except when it came to holding a knife and fork - I won that battle!

@GwenfarsGarden Can I jump in and say something about how this is very region dependant?

I'm Australian. Grew up holding knife in dominant (right) hand, fork in other, and eating the entire meal like that. My wife is from the pacific north west US. Her entire family will hold the knife in the dominant hand too, but cut everything that requires cutting in to smaller pieces around the start of the meal, then put down the knife, and swap fork to dominant hand and eat mostly one-handed.
@GwenfarsGarden I also find it strange that if using both hands I'll hold knife in dominant hand, and fork in other. But if eating soup or pasta or similar one-handed dish, I'll use fork/spoon in dominant hand.

@stibbons @GwenfarsGarden that's interesting. I like to cut as I go because I use the knife to load different mixes of ingredients onto the fork for different bites. I never considered cutting it all up at once

@stibbons Well, it's not the case that my wife is from the Pacific NW USA, but I am Australian, also hold the K&F as you do, and do so while eating, but have friends and colleagues who do as your wife, cutting things up, then putting down the knife, swapping the fork, and eating with the fork in the dominant hand.

I was going to say that directly, then mistakenly thought it would save time just to direct people to your comment. 8-/

CC: @GwenfarsGarden

@ColinTheMathmo @GwenfarsGarden jokingly saying don't ever listen to me. But I thought the utensil swapping was purely an American trait, because I think I've seen it elsewhere on my travels there. Interesting that it's more widespread!

@stibbons OK, now you've confused me. I've never seen the utensil swapping thing from anyone not from the USA ... I didn't think I implied otherwise, and certainly didn't intend to. The friends and colleagues to whom I refer are all from the USA.

CC: @GwenfarsGarden

@ColinTheMathmo @GwenfarsGarden @stibbons What Peter Hardy describes is the predominant way that most middle-to-upper-class white Americans have been rigorously schooled to use cutlery at the dinner table.

@raye @ColinTheMathmo @GwenfarsGarden This is going to get fun when we start teaching our kid how to eat with utensils.

@stibbons I don't have children, but in the past I've used analogous situations to talk about having "superpowers". The usual Oz method of eating is world-wide, but then point out that some people do things differently, you have the ability to choose, your choice will then subtly affect how others think, and *you can control that!*

I've done that to great effect with talking about accents.

CC: @raye @GwenfarsGarden

@ColinTheMathmo @stibbons @GwenfarsGarden From my own experiences, the transmission of American table manners, and the perception of those skills by others, operates much like received pronunciation does in England.

@raye Indeed, and that why seeing/perceiving these things and being able to choose when to do what can be regarded as a superpower.

CC: @stibbons @GwenfarsGarden

@ColinTheMathmo @raye @stibbons sorry all, this convo got a bit beyond me.

I didn't know it was an 'american trait' of cutting stuff up and then just using a fork, as I have seen people do lots of things similar.

I grew up in Oz in a strong Catholic family, where being left-handed was considered evil (Catholicism is weird), so I was forced to become right-handed, except when it came to knife and fork, which I managed to retain (I think my Nana got sick of food going everywhere).

It's been interesting to see that there are more people that swap things around than I realised.

@GwenfarsGarden With knife in the dominant hand you can usually apply more force and control if the food is tough to cut / knife is dull

@GwenfarsGarden Honestly I’ve never learned to hold them both at the same time. I don’t eat meat, so it’s mostly been a non-issue, haha. I’m a “use the side of the fork” kinda gal.

@GwenfarsGarden i'm even more awkward. i have erb's palsy and can only use my right hand so my left hand simply holds whatever i'm not using

@PsyChuan totally :valid:

I kind of realised that the poll was limited, as it only allows you 4 options. Aside of disabilities/different abilities, whole parts of the world use chopsticks or fingers instead of knives and forks.

@GwenfarsGarden I... huh. I often switch hands sometimes when I'm eating but normally it's knife in right, fork in left, but then I often switch the fork to my right hand to actually eat. ...weird. never really thoughta bout this much

@Nine I can't even remember how my friend and I got onto the convo, it's not something I think about normally either.

It has been interesting to see that there is lots of mixing going on, and some people like me who are right-handed, except with a knife and fork.

@GwenfarsGarden @Nine There was something else I recently realized I do in a lefthanded way, although as far as I know I've never been lefthanded, didn't have it trained out of me or anything.

Oh, yeah, counting cash at work. I hold the stack of bills in my right hand and pull the bills I'm counting off the bottom of the stack with my left hand. A few weeks ago I realized that's probably an odd way for a right-hander to do it.

@GwenfarsGarden Right-handed, I tend not to use a knife at all. So I use the fork in my right hand. If I need to cut something up I'll put the knife in my right hand and fork in my left to cut it then put the knife down and switch back to the fork in right. So both? Kinda

@ackthrice this seems to be something lots of people do, going via the comments

@pandora_parrot It's been interesting to find out there are more people doing what I do, and other ways of doing things!

@GwenfarsGarden From what I understand, in the USA, it is extremely common for folks to just switch back and forth. Knife in right, fork in left* to cut your food, then switch to eat. In europe, they just have knife in left, fork in right* all the time, and I adopted that after learning about that, and it work so much better!

* For right handers. Flip for left handers.

@pandora_parrot yeh, I didn't realise how common it was to swap around.

@GwenfarsGarden I assume that is specifically referring to cutting food? If so, I am indeed boringly normal, holding the food that needs to be cut with the fork in my left, and cutting it with the knife in my right. But once the cutting is done I put the knife down and use the fork with my right.
Basically, I do whichever task requires more movement with my dominant hand. So I imagine that if I were the type that held the knife all throughout the meal -- which apparently some of you do, and I somehow never knew! -- I would mostly hold the fork in my right hand and knife in left ... hmm. Now I'm not sure how to vote.

@Mayana this raised a good point. I assumed that people just held their knife and fork the whole time, but clearly lots seem to cut it up then put down the knife as you do. Apparently that's a more American trait, which I didn't know.

@GwenfarsGarden :ms_shrug: It might be? I'm Slovenian, and that's the way most people do it here. At least as far as I know; being blind, I have a slight disadvantage when it comes to spying on strangers in restaurants. But that's definitely how I've been taught to do it.

@Mayana I've never really thought about it before until I got chatting with a friend about it today.

For me, the whole thing was an issue as I was brought up Australian Catholic and it was considered evil to be left handed (this came from my Nana and was the 70s), so I was forced to be right-handed, except I won when it came to the knife and fork issue. But I was considered 'weird'.

It's really interesting to see there are cultural as well as disability based, differences.

@GwenfarsGarden Aah, yes. Christians. Such loving people, worshiping such a loving god, and absolutely never discriminating against people for the stupidest things just because some ancient, outdated book tells them they can.
My father was frequently punished by his teachers for writing with his left hand, too. So perhaps I should ask him about which hands he uses for the fork and knife; that never occurred to me! But given that he does everything else left-handed now without any shame, I assume it didn't stick and he cheerfully uses cutlery that way, too.

@Mayana this was a long reason of many that put me off Catholicism and eventually all religion. The abuse so many people suffered because of this kind of crap!

I'm glad that your father managed to survive and be left-handed without shame.


I voted for the last one since that's the one, I think, I do most often but my mother was obsessed with the idea that the "proper" way to eat was for the knife to be in the right hand and the fork in the left and forced us to eat that way for a good chunk of time so I find myself absentmindedly doing the first one, every so often.

@WammKD so many of us seem to have been forced to do the opposite of what worked for us coz of ridiculous 'reasons'. I became right-handed in the end, except when it came to using a knife & fork.

I really hope parents/caregivers don't force children anymore

cutlery, food-adj 

Knife right, fork left, right handed, BUT i absolutely got trained to do this at age 12-ish by my dad's partner because one of her pet hates was "messy eating"

... even tho what i was doing before wasn't 'messy'? (It was fork in right held in some random grip, would use knife in left to help put things on fork if i needed, but would swap them around (fork left, knife right) to cut things)

cutlery, food-adj 

@certifiedperson between the 'messy' and 'religious reasons' bollocks, lots of kids were screwed up by this shit.

Honestly, however you use the tool, if it gets food into your mouth safely, who bloody cares?!

@GwenfarsGarden i'm right handed, but i reverse a fair few things. eyeliner gets put on left handed. knife in the left hand. i tend to hold heavier things in my left. the few instruments i've tried to play my instinct is to play "backwards" (left handed), and i also knit left handed. no clue why.

@glitter you are probably ambidextrous with one slightly more dominant hand. I always thought being ambidextrous was cool, so there's that ;)

@GwenfarsGarden I mean, I use the flatware the way it’s laid out formally. Spoons and knives on the left, forks on the right. I’m right handed. I don’t hold my knife all the time, just when I need to cut or spread something. When it’s not in use I place it on the left side of the plate, the fork mostly stays in my hand.

@GwenfarsGarden I wonder if there are different schools of place setting. I say this because I remembered a heated debate about the topic between me and my New England friends and some folks from Montreal

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