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What are SQL commands

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Mayank Dham

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a standard language for managing and manipulating relational databases. It provides a set of powerful commands that enable users to interact with databases, retrieve data, modify records, create tables, and much more. In this article, we will explore SQL commands in detail, discussing their types, syntax, and common use cases.

Understanding SQL Commands

SQL commands are statements that instruct a database management system (DBMS) to perform specific operations on a database. These commands can be categorized into four main types: Data Definition Language (DDL), Data Manipulation Language (DML), Data Control Language (DCL), and Transaction Control Language (TCL).

Data Definition Language (DDL)

DDL commands are used to define the structure and schema of a database. They allow users to create, modify, and delete database objects such as tables, indexes, views, and constraints. Some commonly used DDL commands include:

  • CREATE: Used to create a new database, table, view, index, or other objects.
  • ALTER: Modifies the structure of an existing database object.
  • DROP: Deletes a database object, such as a table or index.
  • TRUNCATE: Removes all data from a table while keeping the table structure intact.

Syntax of DDL

DROP TABLE table_name;  
ALTER TABLE table_name ADD column_name COLUMN-definition;   
TRUNCATE TABLE table_name;  

Data Manipulation Language (DML)

DML commands are used to retrieve, insert, update, and delete data in a database. These commands allow users to perform operations on the data stored within the database. Some commonly used DML commands include:

  • SELECT: Retrieves data from one or more tables based on specified conditions.
  • INSERT: Adds new records into a table.
  • UPDATE: Modifies existing records in a table.
  • DELETE: Removes records from a table based on specified conditions.

Syntax of DML

(col1, col2, col3,.... col N)  
VALUES (value1, value2, value3, .... valueN);  

Data Control Language (DCL)

DCL commands are used to manage the access and security of a database. They control the permissions and privileges granted to users and regulate the overall security of the database. Some commonly used DCL commands include:

  • GRANT: Provides users with specific privileges or permissions to access database objects.
  • REVOKE: Removes previously granted privileges from users.

Syntax of DCL


Transaction Control Language (TCL)

TCL commands are used to manage database transactions, ensuring data integrity and consistency. They allow users to control the flow and behavior of transactions within a database. Some commonly used TCL commands include:

  • COMMIT: Saves all changes made in a transaction to the database.
  • ROLLBACK: Reverts all changes made in a transaction to the previous consistent state.
  • SAVEPOINT: Sets a savepoint within a transaction to allow partial rollbacks.

Applications of SQL Commands

SQL commands find extensive use in a wide range of applications and industries. Some common use cases include:

  • Retrieving customer information from a database for analysis and reporting.
  • Inserting new records into a table when a new user registers on a website.
  • Updating product prices or quantities in an e-commerce system.
  • Deleting expired or redundant data from a database.

SQL commands play a vital role in managing and manipulating relational databases. Whether you are a database administrator, a software developer, or a data analyst, understanding the different types of SQL commands and their syntax is crucial for effective database management. By utilizing these commands, you can extract valuable insights from data, ensure data integrity, and build powerful applications that leverage the capabilities of relational databases. Here is a short list of SQL commands that can help to understand the topic in a better way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is the difference between the SELECT and the INSERT command in SQL?
The SELECT command is used to retrieve data from one or more tables based on specified conditions. It allows you to query and view existing data in the database. On the other hand, the INSERT command is used to add new records to a table. It allows you to insert new data into the database, creating new records for future retrieval.

Q2. Can I use multiple conditions in the WHERE clause of an SQL query?
Yes, you can use multiple conditions in the WHERE clause of an SQL query. SQL provides operators such as AND, OR, and NOT to combine multiple conditions. For example, you can retrieve records where both conditions A and B are true by using the AND operator. Similarly, you can retrieve records where either condition A or condition B is true by using the OR operator.

Q3. How can I update multiple records at once using the UPDATE command?
To update multiple records at once using the UPDATE command, you can specify the conditions in the WHERE clause to identify the records to be updated. For example, to update the "status" column of all records where the "category" column is equal to ‘Books’, you can use the following SQL statement:

UPDATE table_name
SET status = 'New Status'
WHERE category = 'Books';

This will update the "status" column of all matching records to the new status value specified.

Q4. What is the purpose of the COMMIT command in SQL?
The COMMIT command is used in SQL to save all the changes made within a transaction to the database. It marks the successful completion of a transaction, ensuring that the changes made are permanently stored in the database. Once a COMMIT command is executed, the changes become visible and can be accessed by other users or processes.

Q5. Can I undo the changes made in a transaction using the ROLLBACK command?
Yes, the ROLLBACK command in SQL allows you to undo all the changes made within a transaction and revert the database to its previous consistent state. If any error or issue occurs during a transaction, the ROLLBACK command can be used to discard all the changes made within that transaction and restore the database to its state before the transaction started. This helps maintain data integrity and consistency in case of unexpected events.

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