What Is the Difference Between Dinner Spoons and Teaspoons?

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Choose between a teaspoon or dinner spoon when setting a table.
Choose between a teaspoon or dinner spoon when setting a table. (Image: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

While the modern teaspoon has taken the place of the dinner spoon in newer flatware sets, the dinner spoon remains a mainstay in classic sets of silver flatware. The larger dinner spoon, though becoming more obsolete in place settings, still has a spot at the table -- just to the right of the knife.

Teaspoon Basics

When a dinner spoon is not included in a place setting, a teaspoon stands in its place. Along with a knife and fork, a teaspoon is the third piece of flatware in a place setting and is often placed simply to finish the place setting, even if it has no use for a particular meal. Positioned to the right of a knife, the teaspoon can be used for eating cereal and soups, as well as stirring coffee and tea.

Behind Dinner Spoons

Larger than a teaspoon, the dinner spoon is also used for eating soups, cereals and desserts. Positioned to the right of the knife, the dinner spoon is not used together with the teaspoon in casual dining, but only in its absence. The exception to this is only in formal dining where the two spoons are often used together with the dinner spoon being situated to the right of the teaspoon in the place setting. In this case, the dinner spoon is used for soup or dessert, while the teaspoon is used for stirring coffee or tea.

A Matter of Size

While size varies substantially by manufacturer, a dinner spoon is always larger than a teaspoon. A typical teaspoon measures 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches in length, while a dinner spoon measures around 7 to 7 1/2 inches in length. In the place of a dinner spoon, the similar sized dessert spoon or place spoon often complete modern place settings. Both roughly the same length and spoon size as the dinner spoon, these spoons can be used to eat soup, cereal or desserts.

Caring for Flatware

Flatware should be washed in warm, soapy water after each use and thoroughly dried to prevent spots and tarnishing. While stainless steel is relatively easy to care for, silver and silver-plated flatware requires more care. Silver flatware benefits from buffing using a soft cloth or towel to bring out its luster and diminish tarnishing. Store silver or silver-plated flatware away from heat and sunlight to prevent tarnishing. Avoid washing silver and stainless steel flatware together to prevent pitting in the silver flatware.

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