Is Interval a Data Type in SQL?


Angela Bailey

When working with SQL, it’s important to understand the different data types that are available. These data types define the kind of values that can be stored in a column of a table.

One common question that often arises is whether interval is a data type in SQL. Let’s dive into this topic and find out.

What is an interval?

An interval is a data type that represents a range of time or duration in SQL. It allows you to store and manipulate time-based values such as months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. With intervals, you can perform calculations and comparisons involving time intervals.

Interval syntax

In SQL, the syntax for defining an interval is as follows:

INTERVAL 'value' unit

The ‘value’ can be any numeric value, positive or negative, that represents the length of the interval. The unit specifies the unit of measurement for the interval and can be one of the following:

  • YEAR: Represents years
  • MONTH: Represents months
  • DAY: Represents days
  • HOUR: Represents hours
  • MINUTE: Represents minutes
  • SECOND: Represents seconds

Interval examples

To illustrate how intervals work in SQL, let’s consider some examples:

Example 1: Adding intervals to dates or timestamps


In the above examples, we are adding intervals to the current date or timestamp. The result will be a new date or timestamp that is incremented by the specified interval.

Example 2: Calculating the difference between two timestamps

SELECT TIMESTAMP '2021-01-01 09:00:00' - TIMESTAMP '2020-12-31 18:30:00';

In this example, we are subtracting two timestamps to calculate the time difference between them. The result will be an interval representing the duration between the two timestamps.

Interval support in different database systems

Although intervals are a useful data type, it’s important to note that not all database systems fully support them. Some database systems may have limited support for intervals or may use different syntax for working with them.


PostgreSQL has extensive support for intervals and provides a wide range of functions and operators for working with them.


MySQL also supports intervals but has limited functionality compared to PostgreSQL. It supports basic interval arithmetic and comparison operations.


Oracle has built-in support for intervals and provides various functions and operators for manipulating them.


In conclusion, yes, interval is a data type in SQL. It allows you to work with time-based values and perform calculations involving time intervals. However, it’s important to be aware of the specific syntax and functionality supported by your chosen database system when working with intervals.

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