SQL ALTER TABLE Statement

The ALTER TABLE Statement

The ALTER TABLE statement is used to add, delete, or modify columns in an existing table.

SQL ALTER TABLE Syntax

To add a column in a table, use the following syntax:
ALTER TABLE table_name
ADD column_name datatype
To delete a column in a table, use the following syntax (notice that some database systems don't allow deleting a column):
ALTER TABLE table_name
DROP COLUMN column_name
To change the data type of a column in a table, use the following syntax:
ALTER TABLE table_name
ALTER COLUMN column_name datatype
SQL ALTER TABLE Example
Look at the "Persons" table:
P_IdLastNameFirstNameAddressCity
1HansenOlaTimoteivn 10Sandnes
2SvendsonToveBorgvn 23Sandnes
3PettersenKariStorgt 20Stavanger

Now we want to add a column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.

We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD DateOfBirth date
Notice that the new column, "DateOfBirth", is of type date and is going to hold a date. The data type specifies what type of data the column can hold. For a complete reference of all the data types available in MS Access, MySQL, and SQL Server, go to our complete Data Types reference.

The "Persons" table will now like this:
P_IdLastNameFirstNameAddressCityDateOfBirth
1HansenOlaTimoteivn 10Sandnes
2SvendsonToveBorgvn 23Sandnes
3PettersenKariStorgt 20Stavanger


Change Data Type Example

Now we want to change the data type of the column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.
We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER COLUMN DateOfBirth year
Notice that the "DateOfBirth" column is now of type year and is going to hold a year in a two-digit or four-digit format.

DROP COLUMN Example

Next, we want to delete the column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.
We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP COLUMN DateOfBirth
The "Persons" table will now like this:
P_IdLastNameFirstNameAddressCity
1HansenOlaTimoteivn 10Sandnes
2SvendsonToveBorgvn 23Sandnes
3PettersenKariStorgt 20Stavanger

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