What Data Type Is Time in SQL?


Heather Bennett

What Data Type Is Time in SQL?

When working with databases, it is crucial to understand the different data types available for storing and manipulating data. One such data type is time, which specifically represents a point in time within a day. In SQL, the time data type is used to store time values in a specific format.

The Time Data Type

In SQL, the time data type allows you to store and manipulate time values without any date information. It represents a specific time of day, including hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds.

The syntax for defining a column with the time data type in SQL is as follows:

column_name TIME(precision)

The precision parameter determines the number of digits to be stored for seconds and milliseconds. The maximum precision allowed is 7 digits.

Storing Time Values

To store a specific time value in SQL, you need to provide the hour, minute, second, and (optionally) millisecond components. The standard format for inserting a time value into a table is as follows:

INSERT INTO table_name (column_name) VALUES ('HH:MM:SS[.SSSSSSS]')

The square brackets indicate that milliseconds are optional and can be omitted if not required.

Retrieving Time Values

To retrieve time values from an SQL table, you can use various functions available in your database management system (DBMS). Commonly used functions include:

  • CURRENT_TIME: Retrieves the current system time.
  • EXTRACT: Extracts specific components (hour, minute, second) from the time value.
  • DATEPART: Returns a specific part of the time value.

Working with Time Data

The time data type allows for various operations and manipulations in SQL. Some common operations include:

  • Arithmetic Operations: You can add or subtract time values to perform calculations.
  • Comparison Operators: You can compare time values using operators like greater than (>), less than (<), etc.
  • Date and Time Functions: SQL provides a wide range of functions to manipulate time values, such as adding or subtracting intervals, formatting, converting, etc.


-- Create a table with a time column
    event_name VARCHAR(50),
    event_time TIME(6)

-- Insert a specific time value
INSERT INTO events (event_name, event_time)
VALUES ('Meeting', '10:30:00');

-- Retrieve events happening after a specific time
SELECT event_name
FROM events
WHERE event_time > '09:00:00';

In the above example, we create a table to store events with their corresponding times. We insert a specific meeting time and then retrieve all events happening after 9 AM.

The time data type in SQL is versatile and provides precise control over representing and manipulating time values. Understanding how to work with this data type is essential for accurately storing and retrieving temporal information in your database applications.

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