SQL Tutorial for Beginners: SQL Subquery

Learn about SQL Subquery with the help of examples. Learn how to use SQL subqueries to perform complex queries within your queries.

In SQL, it's possible to place a SQL query inside another query. This inner query is known as a subquery.

Example

-- use a subquery to select the first name of customer
-- with the maximum value of customer id
SELECT first_name
FROM Customers
WHERE customer_id= (
SELECT MAX(customer_id)
FROM CUSTOMERS
);

Here, the query is divided into two parts:

  • the subquery selects the maximum id from the Customers table
  • the outer query selects the first_name of the customer with the maximum id (returned by the sub query)

SQL Subquery Syntax

The syntax of SQL subqueries is:

SELECT column FROM  table
WHERE  column OPERATOR (
  SELECT column FROM table
);

Here,

  • column is the name of the column(s) to filter
  • OPERATOR is any SQL operator to connect the two queries
  • table is the name of the table to fetch the column from

Example 1: SQL Subquery

-- select all the rows from the Customers table with the minimum age
SELECT *
FROM Customers
WHERE age = (
  SELECT MIN(age)
  FROM Customers
);

In a subquery, the outer query's result depends on the result set of the inner subquery. That's why subqueries are also called nested queries.

Here, the SQL command

  1. executes the subquery first; selects the minimum age from the Customers table.
  2. executes the outer query; selects the rows where age is equal to the result of subquery.

How to use subquery in SQLExample: SQL Subqueries


Example 2: SQL Subquery With IN Operator

Suppose we want the details of customers who have placed an order. Here's how we can do that using a subquery:

-- select the customers who have made orders
SELECT customer_id, first_name
FROM Customers 
WHERE customer_id IN (
  SELECT customer_id
  FROM Orders
);

Here, the SQL command

  1. selects customer_id from the Orders table
  2. select those rows from the Customers table where customer_id is in the result set of the subquery

How to use subquery in SQL

Example: SQL Subquery


SQL Subquery and JOIN

In some scenarios, we can get the same result set using a subquery and the JOIN clause. For example,

-- SELECT DISTINCT only selects the unique combination of customer_id and first_name
-- join the Customers and Orders tables and select the rows where their customer_id values match
-- result set contains customer_id and first_name of customers who made an order

SELECT DISTINCT Customers.customer_id, Customers.first_name
FROM Customers
INNER JOIN Orders
ON Customers.customer_id = Orders.customer_id
ORDER BY Customers.customer_id;

The result set of the above query will be the same as the one below:

-- display the distinct customer ids and first names
-- of customers who made an order using a subquery
SELECT customer_id, first_name
FROM Customers 
WHERE customer_id IN (
  SELECT customer_id
  FROM Orders
);

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SQL Tutorial for Beginners: SQL Subquery
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