Is Time a Data Type in SQL?


Larry Thompson

Is Time a Data Type in SQL?

In SQL, the time data type represents a specific point in time, without a date component. It is used to store and manipulate time values, such as hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds.

While SQL does provide a way to work with time-related data using various functions and operators, it does not have a specific data type called “time”. However, there are different ways to handle time values in SQL depending on the database management system (DBMS) you are using.

Working with Time in SQL

When dealing with time-related data in SQL, you typically have two options:

  • Using the DATETIME Data Type: Some DBMSs provide a single data type called DATETIME, which stores both date and time information. You can use this data type to represent and manipulate time values alongside dates.

    For example, Microsoft SQL Server has the DATETIME data type that includes both date and time components.

  • Using Numeric Data Types: Another approach is to use numeric data types to represent time as a fixed decimal or integer value. For instance, you can store the number of seconds elapsed since midnight using an integer data type.

Date Functions for Time Manipulation

To work with time-related calculations and manipulations in SQL, most DBMSs provide a range of built-in functions:

  • DATEPART(): This function extracts specific parts of a date or time value. For example, you can use it to extract the hour from a datetime value.
  • DATEDIFF(): This function calculates the difference between two date or time values.

    It can be used to find the time elapsed between two specific points in time.

  • DATEADD(): This function adds or subtracts a specified number of date or time units from a given date or time value. It is useful for performing operations like adding minutes to a given time value.

Time Formatting and Display

When displaying time values in SQL, you can format them according to your requirements. Some DBMSs provide built-in functions to format time values, such as:

  • CONVERT(): This function converts a value from one data type to another, allowing you to specify the desired output format for the converted value.
  • FORMAT(): This function formats a value with the specified format and optional culture settings. It is available in some DBMSs, such as Microsoft SQL Server.

Additionally, you can use HTML and CSS styling elements to further enhance the visual presentation of your time-related data when displaying it on a webpage.


In summary, while SQL does not have a specific “time” data type, it provides various ways to handle and manipulate time-related data using other data types and built-in functions. Whether you choose to use the DATETIME data type or numeric data types depends on your specific DBMS and requirements. Remember to utilize appropriate functions for calculations and formatting when working with time values in SQL.

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