SQL is a powerful tool for manipulating data stored in databases. One of the key features of SQL is the ability to combine and compare data from multiple tables. The MINUS operator is one of the many tools SQL provides for comparing and combining data from tables. In this article, we will dive deep into the MINUS operator and explore how it can be used to query and manipulate data in your database.

## What is the MINUS operator in SQL?

The MINUS operator is a SQL set operator used to combine or subtract the results of two SELECT statements. The result of a MINUS operation is the set of rows that is in the first SELECT statement but not in the second SELECT statement. It is similar to the JOIN operator in that it combines data from two tables, but instead of joining the tables, it subtracts one set of rows from another.

Let us consider two tables: `Employees`

and `Managers`

. Both tables have a single column, `Name`

, which contains the names of the employees and managers respectively. Here is an example query that uses the MINUS operator to find the employees who are not managers:

```
SELECT Name
FROM Employees
MINUS
SELECT Name
FROM Managers;
```

This query will return all the names in the `Employees`

table that are not in the `Managers`

table.

## How to use the MINUS operator in SQL

To use the MINUS operator, you need two SELECT statements that return sets of rows with the same number of columns. The columns in each SELECT statement must be of the same data type, or they must be implicitly convertible. Here is the basic syntax of a MINUS operation:

```
SELECT columns
FROM table1
MINUS
SELECT columns
FROM table2;
```

Note that the order of the SELECT statements is important; the MINUS operator returns only the rows that are in the first SELECT statement and not in the second SELECT statement.

It’s also important to note that the MINUS operator is not supported by all database systems. Some database systems, like MySQL, do not support the MINUS operator, but provide similar functionality using the EXCEPT operator.

## Example of using the MINUS operator

Let’s consider an example with two tables; `employees`

and `contractors`

. Both tables have a single column, `Name`

, which contains the names of the employees and contractors. Here is the SQL query that uses the MINUS operator to find the names of employees who are not contractors.

```
SELECT Name
FROM employees
MINUS
SELECT Name
FROM contractors;
```

This query will return all the names of the employees who are not in the `contractors`

table.

## Limitations of the MINUS operator

While the MINUS operator is a powerful tool for comparing and combining data from tables, it does have some limitations that must be taken into account. First, the MINUS operator only works with sets of rows that have the same number of columns and columns with the same data type. If the two tables being compared have different column names or a different number of columns, the MINUS operator will not work.

Second, the MINUS operator only works with SELECT statements that return distinct sets of rows. If either SELECT statement contains duplicate rows, the MINUS operator will not work as expected.

## Conclusion

The MINUS operator is a powerful tool for comparing and combining data from tables in SQL. By using the MINUS operator, you can easily subtract one set of rows from another to find the differences in data between two tables. However, it is important to note that the MINUS operator only works with sets of rows that have the same number of columns and columns with the same data type.

# Frequently Asked Questions

### What is the difference between MINUS and NOT IN operators in SQL?

The MINUS operator and the NOT IN operator are both used to subtract one set of rows from another. However, the MINUS operator requires two SELECT statements, while the NOT IN operator only requires one SELECT statement with a subquery.

### Can the MINUS operator be used with tables that have different column names?

No, the MINUS operator can only be used with sets of rows that have the same number of columns and columns with the same data type.

### What is the equivalent of the MINUS operator in MySQL?

MySQL does not support the MINUS operator, but provides similar functionality using the EXCEPT operator.

### Can the MINUS operator be used with SELECT statements that contain duplicate rows?

No, the MINUS operator only works with SELECT statements that return distinct sets of rows. If either SELECT statement contains duplicate rows, the MINUS operator will not work as expected.

### What is the performance impact of using the MINUS operator?

The performance impact of using the MINUS operator depends on the size and complexity of the tables being compared. In general, the MINUS operator can add additional overhead to SQL queries, but its impact on performance is typically negligible for small to medium-sized tables.

## 📕 Related articles about MySQL

- Installing MySQL on Microsoft Windows
- How to Use Alter Table – Modify Statement in SQL
- How to use Intersect & Except clause in SQL
- MySQL Binary Data: What It Is and How to Use It
- MySQL Where: A Comprehensive Guide to Advanced Querying
- Installing MySQL on Solaris: A Comprehensive Guide