SQL Select

The SELECT statement is probably the most commonly used in SQL. It simply retrieves data from the database.

Lets have a look at a simple SELECT statement:

This SQL SELECT statement is attempting to retrieve all columns from a table called Individual.

How do we know it is trying to select all columns? Because it is using an asterisk (*). This is a quick way of selecting all columns — it's much easier than writing out the names of all columns (especially if there are a lot of columns).

Of course, this SQL SELECT statement assumes that there is a table called Individual. If there wasn't, an error would be generated.

Lets have a look at the table the statement is trying to select data from:

IndividualIdFirstNameLastNameUserName
1FredFlinstonefreddo
2HomerSimpsonhomey
3HomerBrownnotsofamous
4OzzyOzzbournesabbath
5HomerGainnoplacelike

Because our select statement asks to display all columns and all records, we would see all columns and all records, like this:

IndividualIdFirstNameLastNameUserName
1FredFlinstonefreddo
2HomerSimpsonhomey
3HomerBrownnotsofamous
4OzzyOzzbournesabbath
5HomerGainnoplacelike

Select from Multiple Tables

You can select from more than one table at a time. To do this, simply separate each table with a comma. You should also qualify any references to columns by placing the table name in front, separated by a dot.

We have another table called Occupation, which contains the individual's occupation.

OccupationIdIndividualIdJobTitle
11Engineer
22Accountant
33Cleaner
44Attorney
55Sales Executive

SQL statement

We will select from both the Individual table and the Occupation table. We will qualify any column names by prefixing them with its table's name and a dot.

Result

IndividualIdFirstNameLastNameUserNameOccupationIdIndividualIdJobTitle
1HomerSimpsonhomey22Accountant
2HomerBrownnotsofamous33Cleaner
3HomerGainnoplacelike55Sales Executive

Displaying Less Columns

If you don't need every column to be displayed you can single out just the columns you're interested in. It's good programming practice to do this — the more columns your program has to return, the more it will impact its performance.

To only display those columns you're interested in, simply replace the asterisk (*) with a comma separated list of the column names.

SQL statement

Result

IndividualIdLastNameUserName
2Simpsonhomey
3Brownnotsofamous
5Gainnoplacelike