Distinct Keyword Explained in SQL

Distinct Keyword Explained in SQL

The Distinct keyword is a part of SELECT statement. The term distinct refers to uniqueness. This keyword, in conjunction with the SELECT statement is used to return the distinct or unique values residing within the table rather than all the values.

A column within the same table, may contain many duplicate values; and sometimes, it may be required to list only the different and unique (distinct) values.


SELECT DISTINCT column_name_1,column_name_2, … ,column_name_n
FROM tbl_name;


SELECT DISTINCT City from Customers;

The result of above command is that, the DBMS has returned only the City column and one entry of “Birmingham” is missing from the list because of applying distinct keyword.


Distinct keyword works more like an “And” operator meaning, that if Distinct is applying to more columns that it will look for duplicate values in all columns of a particular row and will only function if the whole row is a duplicate otherwise it will mark it as a distinct row.

For example:


The above command will return the following records:

ID C_Name Contact_No City Email Status
1 Tim Robbins +44 54 443-4434 London [email protected] Active
2 James Chris +44 54 498-3476 Birmingham [email protected] Active
3 Kevin Sputnik +44 54 487-6987 Manchester [email protected] Inactive
4 Richard Butler +44 54 422-2345 Birmingham [email protected] Active
5 David McGregor +44 54 413-0989 Cardiff [email protected] Active

Now, the above table shows all record, even the records where 2 rows showing same city entry (i.e. Birmingham). This is because, the rest of the entries within the rows are different and are not duplicated.

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