Learning American table manners is pretty simple. Compared to many other cultures that we have written about on our site, Americans are laid back. We do not have as many rules as other cultures.
While we may be more relaxed about manners (or we have forgotten our manners), there are still rules that should be observed. Failure to do so will likely result in offending someone and that is not what our site is about. If you want to learn how to offend someone, you need to find a different site for that!
In fact, American table manners is more about basic simple manners than anything else. Good family manners are at the heart of the American table.
A typical American table is set with the fork on the left of the plate and the knife and spoon to the right.
It is considered rude to eat anything off of the serving plate. You should place anything on your own plate first. No one wants to share germs with you. This also means if you touch anything on the serving plate, you need to put it on your plate.
You show the utmost politenss if you keep your mouth closed while chewing. Even if there is something very important to say, wait until the food is gone. And under no circumstances is belching allowed at the American table.
It is very polite (and powerful to persuading someone) to compliment the host on the meal. Complimenting people is one of the easiest ways to win people over as long as the compliment is genuine. Fake compliments are easy to see through…
A true gentlemen would help a lady with her chair when being seated and would stand up anytime they are leaving or coming into the room.
Always watch the host and follow what they are doing. This is the person that you do not want to offend and so it is important to keep pace with them.
Really, there are not a lot of rules that are particular to American table manners. Use your best etiquette and common sense and you will be just fine.