SQL JOIN clauses

A SQL JOIN clause merges multiple tables into a single result set. For these demos, we'll use the following schema:

erDiagram People |o--o{ EmailAddresses: PersonId People { int PersonId string FirstName string LastName } EmailAddresses { int EmailAddressId int PersonId string EmailAddress }

INNER JOIN

An INNER JOIN matches column values across tables and only returns data where the specific match was found, typically by mapping a primary key to a foreign key.

SELECT
	People.FirstName,
	People.LastName,
	EmailAddresses.EmailAddress,
FROM
	People
INNER JOIN
	EmailAddresses ON People.PersonId = EmailAddresses.PersonId

-- Sample output --
/*
FirstName	| LastName 	| EmailAddress
---------------------------------------
Micky		| Mouse		| [email protected]
*/

In this example the row for Micky Mouse in the People table was matched with a row from the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key.

OUTER JOIN

An OUTER JOIN works similarly to an INNER JOIN except that it will include results where no match was found by returning null values for columns in the unmatched second table.

FULL OUTER JOIN

A FULL OUTER JOIN returns all rows from both tables (with nulls for unmatched results):

SELECT
	People.FirstName,
	People.LastName,
	EmailAddresses.EmailAddress,
FROM
	People
FULL OUTER JOIN
	EmailAddresses ON People.PersonId = EmailAddresses.PersonId

-- Sample output --
/*
FirstName	| LastName 	| EmailAddress
---------------------------------------
Micky		| Mouse		| [email protected]
Donald		| Duck		| null
null		| null		| [email protected]
*/

In this example:

  • The row for Micky Mouse in the People table was matched with a row from the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key.
  • The row for Donald Duck in the People table was returned, but the email address was nullbecause there was no match in the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key
  • The row for the mysterious email address in the EmailAddresses table was returned, but the FirstName and LastName were null because there was no match in the People table through the PersonId key

LEFT OUTER JOIN

A LEFT OUTER JOIN will return all rows from the left table with null for non-matching right side table rows:

SELECT
	People.FirstName,
	People.LastName,
	EmailAddresses.EmailAddress,
FROM
	People
LEFT OUTER JOIN
	EmailAddresses ON People.PersonId = EmailAddresses.PersonId

-- Sample output --
/*
FirstName	| LastName 	| EmailAddress
---------------------------------------
Micky		| Mouse		| [email protected]
Donald		| Duck		| null
*/
  • The row for Micky Mouse in the People table was matched with a row from the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key.
  • The row for Donald Duck in the People table was returned, but the email address was nullbecause there was no match in the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key

RIGHT OUTER JOIN

A RIGHT OUTER JOIN will return all rows from the right table with null for non-matching left side table rows:

SELECT
	People.FirstName,
	People.LastName,
	EmailAddresses.EmailAddress,
FROM
	People
LEFT OUTER JOIN
	EmailAddresses ON People.PersonId = EmailAddresses.PersonId

-- Sample output -- 
/*
FirstName	| LastName 	| EmailAddress
---------------------------------------
Micky		| Mouse		| [email protected]
null		| null		| [email protected]
*/

In this example:

  • The row for Micky Mouse in the People table was matched with a row from the EmailAddresses table through the PersonId key.
  • The row for the mysterious email address in the EmailAddresses table was returned, but the FirstName and LastName were null because there was no match in the People table through the PersonId key

Broader Topics Related to SQL JOIN clauses: INNER, OUTER, LEFT, RIGHT, FULL

Structured Query Language (SQL)

The language of relational data

SQL JOIN clauses: INNER, OUTER, LEFT, RIGHT, FULL Knowledge Graph