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What is Structured Query Language?

Contel Bradford
Contel Bradford

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a computer programming language used to manipulate information in relational database management systems (RDBMS). SQL is both the American National Standards Insitute (ANSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard for accessing data in RDBMS. It is widely used by many database software systems, including MySQL, SQL Server™, Postgre SQL, and the Oracle® Database. While Structured Query Language is arguably easier to use than traditional computer programming languages, it is also considered to be a very powerful and often complex technology.

SQL has many uses. For example, it can be used to insert or change information in database tables. It can also be used to remove that data. Another common method of using Structured Query Language involves changing the structure of the database itself. Perfect examples would be creating, modifying, or deleting tables or other objects within the database.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

SQL utilizes a set of commands to manipulate the information in a relational database. Among the most common examples are SQL INSERT, SQL SELECT, and SQL UPDATE. As the name indicates, SQL INSERT is used to input data into database tables. SQL SELECT is used to get select data from tables. The SQL UPDATE command is used to make alterations to existing database tables and records. All the necessary SQL commands in a corresponding RDBMS can typically be executed through an SQL command line interface (CLI).

Structured Query Language is based on many different components. Statements represent one of the most important elements. In a database system, these allow queries to be sent from a client program to a server, where the databases are located. The server responds by processing those statements and giving a response to the client. Use of the client-server model allows users to quickly execute a broad range of manipulation functions, from basic input operations to more complex queries.

Many organizations that run SQL database servers use Structured Query Language to simplify the process of database administration. In addition to text, SQL supports other types of data, including digital and multimedia formats such as graphics, audio, and video. It is also instrumental in the creation of interactive websites, through the support of dynamic programming languages such as PHP, Perl, and Python.

SQL plays an integral part in modern computing architecture. It enables the optimal functioning of a countless number of websites, making database interaction fast and effective. The field of Structured Query Language training has blossomed due to the fact that numerous organizations have a need for team members who are well-versed in SQL programming.

Discussion Comments


Here’s a word of career advice. Learn SQL, and you’ll have a qualification for just about any analyst or reporting job on the planet. Most analysts use reporting tools and all of them use SQL in one way or another.

Having this language under your belt will open up a lot of job opportunities for you, even if you don’t fancy yourself a programmer.


@David09 - When I first learned Microsoft Access I knew nothing about SQL. I just used the grids to create the queries, which was easy to do with the drag and drop interface. Later I discovered the View SQL command in Access which immediately showed me the SQL Select Statement for the queries I just created.

This helped me to quickly learn SQL syntax, and soon I was able to create my own queries from scratch—just by typing in the Select statement. This approach gives you a lot more flexibility in creating the queries you want.


If you want to learn SQL you can find a lot of useful tutorials online. One of the best things about SQL is that it is portable across a variety of database platforms and programming languages, with a few vendor specific differences here and there. Oracle SQL might be slightly different than SQL Server SQL but they are mostly the same.

One thing I would recommend for anyone wanting to really grasp Structured English Query Language is to learn database normalization concepts such as first normal form, second normal form and so forth. These concepts will show you how to break up your data in chunks that can then be related to one another, and then the concepts behind a SQL join statement will become easy to understand.

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