What is a Query in a Database? A Complete Explanation

A pic showing the process of Database Query
A pic showing the process of Database Query


A query is one of the most important concepts in working with databases. Understanding what queries are and how they work will allow you to effectively retrieve and manipulate data stored in a database. This article provides a complete overview of database queries, explained in simple terms that are easy to grasp for all readers.

What is a Database Query?

A database query is a request for data from a database. It allows you to retrieve specific data that matches certain criteria from one or more tables in a database.

Queries use structured query language (SQL) statements to communicate with the database and perform data access and manipulation operations. SQL provides simple but powerful commands for defining queries to get what you need from a database.

Types of Database Queries

There are several types of queries that can be used to interrogate a database:
Select query – Retrieves certain records or columns from one or more database tables. This is the most common type.

  • Update query – Changes or updates existing records with new or modified data.
  • Insert query – Adds new records to the database, like inserting a new customer order.
  • Delete query – Removes records from a database table, like deleting old customer data.
  • Join query – Combines row data across two or more related database tables.

Essential Parts of a Database Query

An SQL query statement consists of three important parts:

  1. SELECT – Specifies which columns or fields to retrieve data from.
  2. FROM – Defines the table(s) to query data from.
  3. WHERE – Filters which rows to be included in the result set based on conditions.

By combining these parts correctly, you can construct powerful database queries to get the exact data you want from your database tables.

Query Examples

Here are some basic examples of SQL queries:

SELECT name, email 
FROM customers
WHERE state = 'CA'

This query selects the name and email from the customers table where the state is ‘CA’.

FROM products
INNER JOIN categories 
    ON products.categoryID = categories.categoryID

This query performs an inner join across the products and categories tables to select all columns from the products table combined with the related categories data.

As you can see, with just a basic knowledge of queries you can extract and work with your vital business data extremely effectively.


Database queries are essential to working with relational databases and extracting meaningful insights from your business data. Understanding the fundamentals of queries gives you the power to select precisely the data you need. With practice writing and executing SQL queries, you’ll be equipped to tap into your database’s true potential.

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