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1.0 (stable)
INSERT Statement

The INSERT statement inserts new data into a table.

Examples

Insert the values 1, 2, 3 into tbl:

INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1), (2), (3);

Insert the result of a query into a table:

INSERT INTO tbl
    SELECT * FROM other_tbl;

Insert values into the i column, inserting the default value into other columns:

INSERT INTO tbl (i)
    VALUES (1), (2), (3);

Explicitly insert the default value into a column:

INSERT INTO tbl (i)
    VALUES (1), (DEFAULT), (3);

Assuming tbl has a primary key/unique constraint, do nothing on conflict:

INSERT OR IGNORE INTO tbl (i)
    VALUES (1);

Or update the table with the new values instead:

INSERT OR REPLACE INTO tbl (i)
    VALUES (1);

Syntax

INSERT INTO inserts new rows into a table. One can insert one or more rows specified by value expressions, or zero or more rows resulting from a query.

Insert Column Order

It's possible to provide an optional insert column order, this can either be BY POSITION (the default) or BY NAME. Each column not present in the explicit or implicit column list will be filled with a default value, either its declared default value or NULL if there is none.

If the expression for any column is not of the correct data type, automatic type conversion will be attempted.

INSERT INTO ... [BY POSITION]

The order that values are inserted into the columns of the table is determined by the order that the columns were declared in. That is, the values supplied by the VALUES clause or query are associated with the column list left-to-right. This is the default option, that can be explicitly specified using the BY POSITION option. For example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (a INTEGER, b INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (5, 42);

Specifying "BY POSITION" is optional and is equivalent to the default behavior:

INSERT INTO tbl
    BY POSITION
    VALUES (5, 42);

To use a different order, column names can be provided as part of the target, for example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (a INTEGER, b INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl (b, a)
    VALUES (5, 42);

Adding BY POSITION results in the same behavior:

INSERT INTO tbl
    BY POSITION (b, a)
    VALUES (5, 42);

This will insert 5 into b and 42 into a.

INSERT INTO ... BY NAME

Using the BY NAME modifier, the names of the column list of the SELECT statement are matched against the column names of the table to determine the order that values should be inserted into the table. This allows inserting even in cases when the order of the columns in the table differs from the order of the values in the SELECT statement or certain columns are missing.

For example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (a INTEGER, b INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl BY NAME (SELECT 42 AS b, 32 AS a);
INSERT INTO tbl BY NAME (SELECT 22 AS b);
SELECT * FROM tbl;
a b
32 42
NULL 22

It's important to note that when using INSERT INTO ... BY NAME, the column names specified in the SELECT statement must match the column names in the table. If a column name is misspelled or does not exist in the table, an error will occur. Columns that are missing from the SELECT statement will be filled with the default value.

ON CONFLICT Clause

An ON CONFLICT clause can be used to perform a certain action on conflicts that arise from UNIQUE or PRIMARY KEY constraints. An example for such a conflict is shown in the following example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84);

This raises as an error:

Constraint Error: Duplicate key "i: 1" violates primary key constraint.

The table will contain the row that was first inserted:

SELECT * FROM tbl;
i j
1 42

These error messages can be avoided by explicitly handling conflicts. DuckDB supports two such clauses: ON CONFLICT DO NOTHING and ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET ....

DO NOTHING Clause

The DO NOTHING clause causes the error(s) to be ignored, and the values are not inserted or updated. For example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84)
    ON CONFLICT DO NOTHING;

These statements finish successfully and leaves the table with the row <i: 1, j: 42>.

Shorthand for DO NOTHING

The INSERT OR IGNORE INTO ... statement is a shorter syntax alternative to INSERT INTO ... ON CONFLICT DO NOTHING. For example, the following statements are equivalent:

INSERT OR IGNORE INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84) ON CONFLICT DO NOTHING;

DO UPDATE Clause (Upsert)

The DO UPDATE clause causes the INSERT to turn into an UPDATE on the conflicting row(s) instead. The SET expressions that follow determine how these rows are updated. The expressions can use the special virtual table EXCLUDED, which contains the conflicting values for the row. Optionally you can provide an additional WHERE clause that can exclude certain rows from the update. The conflicts that don't meet this condition are ignored instead.

Because we need a way to refer to both the to-be-inserted tuple and the existing tuple, we introduce the special EXCLUDED qualifier. When the EXCLUDED qualifier is provided, the reference refers to the to-be-inserted tuple, otherwise, it refers to the existing tuple. This special qualifier can be used within the WHERE clauses and SET expressions of the ON CONFLICT clause.

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl VALUES (1, 52), (1, 62) ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;

Examples

An example using DO UPDATE is the following:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;
SELECT * FROM tbl;
i j
1 84

Rearranging columns and using BY NAME is also possible:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl (j, i)
    VALUES (168, 1)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;
INSERT INTO tbl
    BY NAME (SELECT 1 AS i, 336 AS j)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;
SELECT * FROM tbl;
i j
1 336

Shorthand

The INSERT OR REPLACE INTO ... statement is a shorter syntax alternative to INSERT INTO ... DO UPDATE SET c1 = EXCLUDED.c1, c2 = EXCLUDED.c2, .... That is, it updates every column of the existing row to the new values of the to-be-inserted row. For example, given the following input table:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);

These statements are equivalent:

INSERT OR REPLACE INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;
INSERT INTO tbl (j, i)
    VALUES (84, 1)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;
INSERT INTO tbl BY NAME
    (SELECT 84 AS j, 1 AS i)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = EXCLUDED.j;

Limitations

When the ON CONFLICT ... DO UPDATE clause is used and a conflict occurs, DuckDB internally assigns NULL values to the row's columns that are unaffected by the conflict, then re-assigns their values. If the affected columns use a NOT NULL constraint, this will trigger a NOT NULL constraint failed error. For example:

CREATE TABLE t1 (id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, val1 DOUBLE, val2 DOUBLE NOT NULL);
CREATE TABLE t2 (id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, val1 DOUBLE);
INSERT INTO t1
    VALUES (1, 2, 3);
INSERT INTO t2
    VALUES (1, 5);

INSERT INTO t1 BY NAME (SELECT id, val1 FROM t2)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE
    SET val1 = EXCLUDED.val1;

This fails with the following error:

Constraint Error: NOT NULL constraint failed: t1.val2

Defining a Conflict Target

A conflict target may be provided as ON CONFLICT (confict_target). This is a group of columns that an index or uniqueness/key constraint is defined on. If the conflict target is omitted, or PRIMARY KEY constraint(s) on the table are targeted.

Specifying a conflict target is optional unless using a DO UPDATE and there are multiple unique/primary key constraints on the table.

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER UNIQUE, k INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 20, 300);
SELECT * FROM tbl;
i j k
1 20 300
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 40, 700)
    ON CONFLICT (i) DO UPDATE SET k = 2 * EXCLUDED.k;
i j k
1 20 1400
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 20, 900)
    ON CONFLICT (j) DO UPDATE SET k = 5 * EXCLUDED.k;
i j k
1 20 4500

When a conflict target is provided, you can further filter this with a WHERE clause, that should be met by all conflicts.

INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 40, 700)
    ON CONFLICT (i) DO UPDATE SET k = 2 * EXCLUDED.k WHERE k < 100;

Multiple Tuples Conflicting on the Same Key

Limitations

Currently, DuckDB’s ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE feature is limited to enforce constraints between committed and newly inserted (transaction-local) data. In other words, having multiple tuples conflicting on the same key is not supported. If the newly inserted data has duplicate rows, an error message will be thrown, or unexpected behavior can occur. This also includes conflicts only within the newly inserted data.

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 84), (1, 168)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = j + EXCLUDED.j;

This returns the following message.

Error: Invalid Input Error: ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE can not update the same row twice in the same command.
Ensure that no rows proposed for insertion within the same command have duplicate constrained values

To work around this, enforce uniqueness using DISTINCT ON. For example:

CREATE TABLE tbl (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO tbl
    VALUES (1, 42);
INSERT INTO tbl
    SELECT DISTINCT ON(i) i, j FROM VALUES (1, 84), (1, 168) AS t (i, j)
    ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE SET j = j + EXCLUDED.j;
SELECT * FROM tbl;
i j
1 126

RETURNING Clause

The RETURNING clause may be used to return the contents of the rows that were inserted. This can be useful if some columns are calculated upon insert. For example, if the table contains an automatically incrementing primary key, then the RETURNING clause will include the automatically created primary key. This is also useful in the case of generated columns.

Some or all columns can be explicitly chosen to be returned and they may optionally be renamed using aliases. Arbitrary non-aggregating expressions may also be returned instead of simply returning a column. All columns can be returned using the * expression, and columns or expressions can be returned in addition to all columns returned by the *.

For example:

CREATE TABLE t1 (i INTEGER);
INSERT INTO t1
    SELECT 42
    RETURNING *;
i
42

A more complex example that includes an expression in the RETURNING clause:

CREATE TABLE t2 (i INTEGER, j INTEGER);
INSERT INTO t2
    SELECT 2 AS i, 3 AS j
    RETURNING *, i * j AS i_times_j;
i j i_times_j
2 3 6

The next example shows a situation where the RETURNING clause is more helpful. First, a table is created with a primary key column. Then a sequence is created to allow for that primary key to be incremented as new rows are inserted. When we insert into the table, we do not already know the values generated by the sequence, so it is valuable to return them. For additional information, see the CREATE SEQUENCE page.

CREATE TABLE t3 (i INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, j INTEGER);
CREATE SEQUENCE 't3_key';
INSERT INTO t3
    SELECT nextval('t3_key') AS i, 42 AS j
    UNION ALL
    SELECT nextval('t3_key') AS i, 43 AS j
    RETURNING *;
i j
1 42
2 43
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Last modified: 2024-07-16