The Continental European Style English Language Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Yucks. Look at all the dirt he got on his shirt and the way hes stuffing food into his mouth. Its like he hasnt eaten for ages. And that burp…Oh my God. That guy is simply DISGUSTING!" I'm sure most of you here in this room shared the same thought as I did while watching the video just a while ago. All the actions portrayed earlier simply sums up to only one issue; bad dining etiquettes. According to the Oxford British & World English Dictionary, etiquette is defined as the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. Dining etiquette, therefore, refers to polite behavior while having meals.

Tie To Audience/ Relevancy Statement/ Reveal Your Topic:

Did you know that having the right dining etiquettes for the right occasion is a bonus mark for you? Proper dining etiquettes allows you to ace the first impression others would have on you as well as builds up a comfortable social environment both for you and the people around you.

Credibility Material:

I was shocked to find out how little Malaysians know about dining etiquettes of even their own culture, what more of other different cultures. From an analysis of questionnaire that I have done on dining etiquettes in Malaysia, it is found that not even 8% of participants know everything about the right dining etiquettes of even their own culture.

Thesis & Preview:

Different cultures have different dining etiquettes to follow. Today, I would like to enlighten you about the proper dining etiquettes for the Western and Chinese culture.

(Transition: In present times, anyone with cravings for Western cuisines can easily be satisfied as they can be found almost anywhere at all in Malaysia. Therefore, it is important for us to know and exercise about proper Western dining etiquettes.)


A. Main Point 1

Western dining etiquettes include pre-set and usage of utensils, eating styles, and the general social and table manners to follow.

1. Subpoint 1

The Western culture has its own unique way of setting the utensils on the dining table as well as the way of using them.

i. The right arrangement of utensils in the Western culture is when a napkin and three forks are placed to the left of the diner, namely the salad fork, the dinner fork and the dessert fork from left to right respectively. From the innermost right outwards will be a dinner knife followed by two spoons, which are the teaspoon and soup spoon respectively. In front of the spoon will be three glasses, which are the water goblet, red wine and white wine glasses named from left to right, whereas a butter spreader and a bread and butter plate will be laced in front of the forks.

ii. Be it in a formal or informal setting, the rule of using dinnerware is to "eat to your left and drink to your right". Starting with either the forks, spoons or knife that is furthest from the plate, use the utensils inwards, using only one utensil for each course that is served.

iii. The usage of napkins at different places signifies different messages. When the napkin is placed on the diners lap, it indicates that the diner is ready to begin his/her meal. If the napkin is placed on a chair, the diner is asking to be excused from the table whereas putting a napkin on the table implies that the diner has had his/her fill.

iv. One rule that one should remember when having a Western cuisine is that used utensils must never be placed back on the table again, not even the handles of the utensils. They should be rested on the side of the plate. Unused dinnerware is simple left on the table.

2. Subpoint 2:

There are two main eating styles in Western dining etiquettes, namely the Continental or European style and the American style.

i. The Continental/European style involves using the fork in the left hand to hold the food while cutting with the knife in the right hand. When eating, the fork remains in the left hand with the sharp ends curving downwards. Both the fork and the knife are constantly held in the diner's hands pointing downwards throughout the meal. To take a drink, both utensils must be put down into resting position, where the fork is crossed over the knife.

ii. The American style is similar to the European style, except that when eating, the fork is switched to the right hand, unless the diner is left handed. Also, a few bite-sized pieces of the food are cut beforehand before placing the knife down on the edge of the plate with the cutting end facing in.

3. Subpoint 3:

Generally, there are a few social and dining etiquette rules that we should take note of in Western dining.

  i. Guests should wait for the host/hostess to take their seats before taking theirs, unless the guest is asked to do so first by the host/hostess. If no name cards are placed at the table, wait until the host indicates where you should be seated. In the norm, the seating arrangement would be man and woman being seated alternately with the woman on the right of the man. Diners should never place any belongings on the table.

ii. In the Western culture, food is served from the left and removed from the right. Be polite at all times by saying please when asking for something and thank you to the server when used items are removed from your table. Butter, spreads or dips should be first placed in your plate before spreading r eating them.

(Transition: It is no longer strange for us to see Malays or Indians using chopsticks to have their meals. The Chinese dining etiquettes is no longer only for the Chinese, but for all. Hence, we should all take note of the right dining etiquettes in the Chinese culture.)

B. Main Point 2

Some unique etiquettes of the Chinese culture are the usage of chopsticks and the Chinese art of drinking tea.

1. Subpoint 1

Since chopsticks are the main utensil used in Chinese dining, knowing the right way to use chopsticks is a necessity.

i. Chopsticks are used based on a rule known as "xian ren zhi lu", which means "Immortal Guiding". It is when one's index finger is free to point to others whereas the other fingers are used to hold the chopsticks. In the Chinese tradition, the index finger is believed to be the finger for meals, hence pointing the index finger to another indicates censure. To make things worse is by using the middle finger to point and all the other fingers to hold the chopsticks. These two methods of holding chopsticks should be avoided.

ii. There is also the "san chang liang duan" rule, which means "Three Long Two Short" in English. This rule states that chopsticks should always be of the same length. This goes back to the Chinese history where the bottom part of the coffin was made up of two short boards for the head and three long boards for the sides and bottom, hence the name "Three Long, Two Short" which implies great misfortune.

iii. At certain occasions, a pair of "gong kuai", which stands for common chopsticks are set on the table. This set of chopsticks is used for shared dishes only. They are usually differentiable from the "bu tong kuai", regular chopsticks in that they will be of a different colour and usually decorated, longer, made of different material, and many other features. When a common pair of chopsticks is provided, do not use your own chopsticks for shared dishes because it is equivalent to spitting in the food. In occasions where none is provided, the reverse end of your chopsticks is used for the shared dishes. This is done by flipping the chopsticks when switching between the two.

2. Subpoint 2:

The art of drinking tea holds a major part in the Chinese dining etiquette.

i. The best kind of teapot to use for tea brewing is a purple clay ceramic pot. The size of the pot should be suitable in size for the cups. The cups should be white on the inside so that we can clearly see the colour of the tea brewed. The teapot should be held with the right hand with the other hand holding the teapot lid. This not only prevents the lid from falling off, it is also a symbol of honour to the guest.

ii. One must always keep in mind not to point the spout of the teapot directly at someone as it has the same indication as pointing your finger towards someone, which is rude in the Chinese culture. It can also mean that the person pointed to is not welcomed to the house. There is an exception for round tables where the teapot should not be pointed only to the person on your direct left or right.

iii. One rule to be kept in mind is the "duan cha song ke" rule, which means that tea given by the boss is not meant to be taken. Serving tea to a subordinate indicates that the boss wants the subordinate to leave and vice versa. Others should always be offered first before pouring your own tea. If a server is pouring your tea however, gently tap your knuckles on the table two to three times as a symbol of thankfulness. When tea has run out, the lid of the teapot may be opened partially to signal the server to refill the teapot with hot water. The lid should never touch the table because Chinese believe that good luck escapes by doing so.

III. Conclusion


In a nutshell, this is not all there is to dining etiquettes. dining etiquettes is not only about table manners, but covers a vast scope as it includes dressing, behavior and many other aspects.


The Western and Chinese culture that we have discussed today is merely a small part of it.

C. Tie Back to Audience:

I'm sure none of us would want to appear uneducated regarding dining etiquette. Thus, it is important for us to know the dining etiquettes that suit the occasion we are attending as it not only leaves a good impression of us on other people, more importantly it is a form of respect and honour to the host.

D. Concluding Memorable Remarks:

We will never lose out in learning and exercising new etiquettes in our lives. Just as Thomas Sowell quote, "Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back."

etiquette. 2012. In from

Stradley, L. (n.d.). United states dining etiquette guide. Retrieved from

Lininger, M. (n.d.). United states (american). Retrieved from