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SQL LIKE Operator


The SQL LIKE Operator

The LIKE operator is used in a WHERE clause to search for a specified pattern in a column.

There are two wildcards often used in conjunction with the LIKE operator:

  •  The percent sign % represents zero, one, or multiple characters
  •  The underscore sign _ represents one, single character

You will learn more about wildcards in the next chapter.

Example

Select all customers that starts with the letter "a":

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a%';
Try it Yourself »

Syntax

SELECT column1, column2, ...
FROM table_name
WHERE columnN LIKE pattern;


Demo Database

Below is a selection from the Customers table used in the examples:

CustomerID CustomerName ContactName Address City PostalCode Country
1

Alfreds Futterkiste Maria Anders Obere Str. 57 Berlin 12209 Germany
2 Ana Trujillo Emparedados y helados Ana Trujillo Avda. de la Constitución 2222 México D.F. 05021 Mexico
3 Antonio Moreno Taquería Antonio Moreno Mataderos 2312 México D.F. 05023 Mexico
4

Around the Horn Thomas Hardy 120 Hanover Sq. London WA1 1DP UK
5 Berglunds snabbköp Christina Berglund Berguvsvägen 8 Luleå S-958 22 Sweden

The _ Wildcard

The _ wildcard represents a single character.

It can be any character or number, but each _ represents one, and only one, character.

Example

Return all customers from a city that starts with 'L' followed by one wildcard character, then 'nd' and then two wildcard characters:

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE city LIKE 'L_nd__';
Try it Yourself »


The % Wildcard

The % wildcard represents any number of characters, even zero characters.

Example

Return all customers from a city that contains the letter 'L':

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE city LIKE '%L%';
Try it Yourself »

Starts With

To return records that starts with a specific letter or phrase, add the % at the end of the letter or phrase.

Example

Return all customers that starts with 'La':

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'La%';
Try it Yourself »

Tip: You can also combine any number of conditions using AND or OR operators.

Example

Return all customers that starts with 'a' or starts with 'b':

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a%' OR CustomerName LIKE 'b%';
Try it Yourself »

Ends With

To return records that ends with a specific letter or phrase, add the % at the beginning of the letter or phrase.

Example

Return all customers that ends with 'a':

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%a';
Try it Yourself »

Tip: You can also combine "starts with" and "ends with":

Example

Return all customers that starts with "b" and ends with "s":

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'b%s';
Try it Yourself »

Contains

To return records that contains a specific letter or phrase, add the % both before and after the letter or phrase.

Example

Return all customers that contains the phrase 'or'

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%or%';
Try it Yourself »

Combine Wildcards

Any wildcard, like % and _ , can be used in combination with other wildcards.

Example

Return all customers that starts with "a" and are at least 3 characters in length:

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a__%';
Try it Yourself »

Example

Return all customers that have "r" in the second position:

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '_r%';
Try it Yourself »

Without Wildcard

If no wildcard is specified, the phrase has to have an exact match to return a result.

Example

Return all customers from Spain:

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE Country LIKE 'Spain';
Try it Yourself »

Test Yourself With Exercises

Exercise:

Select all records where the value of the City column starts with the letter "a".

SELECT * FROM Customers
;

Start the Exercise