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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 used in conjunction with the LIKE operator:

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

Note: MS Access uses a question mark (?) instead of the underscore (_).

The percent sign and the underscore can also be used in combinations!

LIKE Syntax

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

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

Here are some examples showing different LIKE operators with '%' and '_' wildcards:

LIKE Operator Description
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a%' Finds any values that starts with "a"
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%a' Finds any values that ends with "a"
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%or%' Finds any values that have "or" in any position
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '_r%' Finds any values that have "r" in the second position
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a_%_%' Finds any values that starts with "a" and are at least 3 characters in length
WHERE ContactName LIKE 'a%o' Finds any values that starts with "a" and ends with "o"

Demo Database

Below is a selection from the "Customers" table in the Northwind sample database:

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

SQL LIKE Examples

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName starting with "a":

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName ending with "a":

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that have "or" in any position:

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that have "r" in the second position:

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that starts with "a" and are at least 3 characters in length:

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that starts with "a" and ends with "o":

Example

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

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that NOT starts with "a":

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName NOT LIKE 'a%';
Try it Yourself »