What Is Time Data Type in SQL?


Heather Bennett

When working with databases, it is essential to understand the different data types available. One such data type is the time data type in SQL.

As the name suggests, this data type is used to store time values. In this article, we will explore what the time data type is and how it can be used in SQL.

What Is the Time Data Type?

The time data type is a data type in SQL that stores a time value without a date component. It represents a specific time of day in hours, minutes, seconds, and fractions of a second. The time is typically represented in a 24-hour format.

In SQL, the time data type can be used to store various time-related information such as opening and closing times of businesses, event schedules, or timestamps for specific actions.

Syntax for Defining Time Data Type

In most database management systems (DBMS), the syntax for defining the time data type follows a similar pattern:

CREATE TABLE table_name (
    column_name TIME

The keyword TIME indicates that the column will store time values.


    event_id INT,
    event_name VARCHAR(100),
    event_start_time TIME

Storing Time Values

To store time values in a table column with the time data type, you need to provide the value using a specific format. The most common format is ‘HH:MI:SS’ (hours:minutes:seconds).


INSERT INTO events (event_id, event_name, event_start_time)
VALUES (1, 'Conference', '09:00:00');

The above query inserts an event with an event ID of 1, the event name as ‘Conference’, and the event start time as 09:00:00.

Retrieving Time Values

To retrieve time values from a table column with the time data type, you can use various SQL queries such as SELECT and WHERE.


SELECT event_name, event_start_time
FROM events
WHERE event_start_time > '08:30:00';

The above query retrieves the names and start times of all events that start after 08:30:00.

Formatting Time Values

In some cases, you may need to format the retrieved time values to display in a specific way. Most DBMS provide built-in functions to format time values according to your requirements.


SELECT event_name, DATE_FORMAT(event_start_time, '%h:%i %p') AS formatted_time
FROM events;

The above query formats the event start time into a 12-hour format (e.g., 09:00 AM).


In conclusion, the time data type in SQL is used to store specific time values without a date component. It is particularly useful for storing time-related information such as schedules or timestamps. By understanding how to define, store, retrieve, and format time values using the time data type, you can effectively work with temporal data in your SQL databases.

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