How to Write a Basic SQL Query

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a domain-specific language used for managing and querying relational databases.

Writing SQL queries is an essential skill for anyone dealing with databases, whether you're a software developer, data analyst, or database administrator.

In this article, we'll walk you through the process of writing a basic SQL query.


Before we dive into writing SQL queries, make sure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  1. Database Management System (DBMS): You need access to a database and a DBMS to practice SQL queries. Popular DBMS options include MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, SQL Server, and Oracle.
  2. SQL Client: You can write and execute SQL queries using a command-line tool, GUI-based client (e.g., MySQL Workbench, DBeaver), or an online SQL editor.

Writing a Basic SQL Query

SQL queries typically fall into four main categories: SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE. In this article, we'll start with a basic SELECT query, which is used to retrieve data from a database.

The "SELECT" Statement

The SELECT statement is used to retrieve data from one or more tables in a database. The basic syntax of a SELECT query is as follows:

SELECT column1, column2, ...
FROM table_name;

Here's a breakdown of the components:

Let's look at some practical examples.

Example 1: Retrieving All Columns

To retrieve all columns from a table, use SELECT *. For example, if you have a table called employees, you can retrieve all records like this:

FROM employees;

This query will return all rows and columns from the employees table.

Example 2: Selecting Specific Columns

To retrieve specific columns, list them after the SELECT keyword. Suppose you want to retrieve only the first_name and last_name columns from the employees table:

SELECT first_name, last_name
FROM employees;

This query will return only the first_name and last_name columns for all records in the employees table.

Example 3: Adding a WHERE Clause

You can filter the results using a WHERE clause. For instance, if you want to retrieve the records of employees whose department is 'Sales':

SELECT first_name, last_name
FROM employees
WHERE department = 'Sales';

This query will return the first_name and last_name of employees working in the 'Sales' department.

Running Your SQL Query

After writing your SQL query, you need to run it against a database. The process of executing SQL queries can vary depending on the SQL client or DBMS you are using. Here are the general steps:

  1. Open your SQL client or database interface.
  2. Connect to the database you want to work with.
  3. Paste your SQL query into the SQL editor.
  4. Run the query, and view the results.


Writing a basic SQL query is an essential skill for working with relational databases. In this article, we covered the SELECT statement, which is used to retrieve data from a table.

You learned how to select all columns or specific columns and how to filter results using a WHERE clause. As you become more familiar with SQL, you can explore more advanced SQL statements and features to manipulate and query data effectively.