12.2.5. INSERT Syntax

    [INTO] tbl_name [(col_name,...)]
    {VALUES | VALUE} ({expr | DEFAULT},...),(...),...
        [, col_name=expr] ... ]


    [INTO] tbl_name
    SET col_name={expr | DEFAULT}, ...
        [, col_name=expr] ... ]


    [INTO] tbl_name [(col_name,...)]
    SELECT ...
        [, col_name=expr] ... ]

INSERT inserts new rows into an existing table. The INSERT ... VALUES and INSERT ... SET forms of the statement insert rows based on explicitly specified values. The INSERT ... SELECT form inserts rows selected from another table or tables. INSERT ... SELECT is discussed further in Section, “INSERT ... SELECT Syntax”.

You can use REPLACE instead of INSERT to overwrite old rows. REPLACE is the counterpart to INSERT IGNORE in the treatment of new rows that contain unique key values that duplicate old rows: The new rows are used to replace the old rows rather than being discarded. See Section 12.2.8, “REPLACE Syntax”.

tbl_name is the table into which rows should be inserted. The columns for which the statement provides values can be specified as follows:

  • You can provide a comma-separated list of column names following the table name. In this case, a value for each named column must be provided by the VALUES list or the SELECT statement.

  • If you do not specify a list of column names for INSERT ... VALUES or INSERT ... SELECT, values for every column in the table must be provided by the VALUES list or the SELECT statement. If you do not know the order of the columns in the table, use DESCRIBE tbl_name to find out.

  • The SET clause indicates the column names explicitly.

Column values can be given in several ways:

  • If you are not running in strict SQL mode, any column not explicitly given a value is set to its default (explicit or implicit) value. For example, if you specify a column list that does not name all the columns in the table, unnamed columns are set to their default values. Default value assignment is described in Section 10.1.4, “Data Type Default Values”. See also Section, “Constraints on Invalid Data”.

    If you want an INSERT statement to generate an error unless you explicitly specify values for all columns that do not have a default value, you should use strict mode. See Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

  • Use the keyword DEFAULT to set a column explicitly to its default value. This makes it easier to write INSERT statements that assign values to all but a few columns, because it enables you to avoid writing an incomplete VALUES list that does not include a value for each column in the table. Otherwise, you would have to write out the list of column names corresponding to each value in the VALUES list.

    You can also use DEFAULT(col_name) as a more general form that can be used in expressions to produce a given column's default value.

  • If both the column list and the VALUES list are empty, INSERT creates a row with each column set to its default value:

    INSERT INTO tbl_name () VALUES();

    In strict mode, an error occurs if any column doesn't have a default value. Otherwise, MySQL uses the implicit default value for any column that does not have an explicitly defined default.

  • You can specify an expression expr to provide a column value. This might involve type conversion if the type of the expression does not match the type of the column, and conversion of a given value can result in different inserted values depending on the data type. For example, inserting the string '1999.0e-2' into an INT, FLOAT, DECIMAL(10,6), or YEAR column results in the values 1999, 19.9921, 19.992100, and 1999 being inserted, respectively. The reason the value stored in the INT and YEAR columns is 1999 is that the string-to-integer conversion looks only at as much of the initial part of the string as may be considered a valid integer or year. For the floating-point and fixed-point columns, the string-to-floating-point conversion considers the entire string a valid floating-point value.

    An expression expr can refer to any column that was set earlier in a value list. For example, you can do this because the value for col2 refers to col1, which has previously been assigned:

    INSERT INTO tbl_name (col1,col2) VALUES(15,col1*2);

    But the following is not legal, because the value for col1 refers to col2, which is assigned after col1:

    INSERT INTO tbl_name (col1,col2) VALUES(col2*2,15);

    One exception involves columns that contain AUTO_INCREMENT values. Because the AUTO_INCREMENT value is generated after other value assignments, any reference to an AUTO_INCREMENT column in the assignment returns a 0.

INSERT statements that use VALUES syntax can insert multiple rows. To do this, include multiple lists of column values, each enclosed within parentheses and separated by commas. Example:

INSERT INTO tbl_name (a,b,c) VALUES(1,2,3),(4,5,6),(7,8,9);

The values list for each row must be enclosed within parentheses. The following statement is illegal because the number of values in the list does not match the number of column names:

INSERT INTO tbl_name (a,b,c) VALUES(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9);

VALUE is a synonym for VALUES in this context. Neither implies anything about the number of values lists, and either may be used whether there is a single values list or multiple lists.

The affected-rows value for an INSERT can be obtained using the ROW_COUNT() function (see Section 11.14, “Information Functions”), or the mysql_affected_rows() C API function (see Section, “mysql_affected_rows()).

If you use an INSERT ... VALUES statement with multiple value lists or INSERT ... SELECT, the statement returns an information string in this format:

Records: 100 Duplicates: 0 Warnings: 0

Records indicates the number of rows processed by the statement. (This is not necessarily the number of rows actually inserted because Duplicates can be nonzero.) Duplicates indicates the number of rows that could not be inserted because they would duplicate some existing unique index value. Warnings indicates the number of attempts to insert column values that were problematic in some way. Warnings can occur under any of the following conditions:

  • Inserting NULL into a column that has been declared NOT NULL. For multiple-row INSERT statements or INSERT INTO ... SELECT statements, the column is set to the implicit default value for the column data type. This is 0 for numeric types, the empty string ('') for string types, and the “zero” value for date and time types. INSERT INTO ... SELECT statements are handled the same way as multiple-row inserts because the server does not examine the result set from the SELECT to see whether it returns a single row. (For a single-row INSERT, no warning occurs when NULL is inserted into a NOT NULL column. Instead, the statement fails with an error.)

  • Setting a numeric column to a value that lies outside the column's range. The value is clipped to the closest endpoint of the range.

  • Assigning a value such as '10.34 a' to a numeric column. The trailing nonnumeric text is stripped off and the remaining numeric part is inserted. If the string value has no leading numeric part, the column is set to 0.

  • Inserting a string into a string column (CHAR, VARCHAR, TEXT, or BLOB) that exceeds the column's maximum length. The value is truncated to the column's maximum length.

  • Inserting a value into a date or time column that is illegal for the data type. The column is set to the appropriate zero value for the type.

If you are using the C API, the information string can be obtained by invoking the mysql_info() function. See Section, “mysql_info().

If INSERT inserts a row into a table that has an AUTO_INCREMENT column, you can find the value used for that column by using the SQL LAST_INSERT_ID() function. From within the C API, use the mysql_insert_id() function. However, you should note that the two functions do not always behave identically. The behavior of INSERT statements with respect to AUTO_INCREMENT columns is discussed further in Section 11.14, “Information Functions”, and Section, “mysql_insert_id().

The INSERT statement supports the following modifiers:

  • If you use the DELAYED keyword, the server puts the row or rows to be inserted into a buffer, and the client issuing the INSERT DELAYED statement can then continue immediately. If the table is in use, the server holds the rows. When the table is free, the server begins inserting rows, checking periodically to see whether there are any new read requests for the table. If there are, the delayed row queue is suspended until the table becomes free again. See Section, “INSERT DELAYED Syntax”.


    DELAYED is also disregarded for an INSERT that uses functions accessing tables or triggers, or that is called from a function or a trigger.

  • If you use the LOW_PRIORITY keyword, execution of the INSERT is delayed until no other clients are reading from the table. This includes other clients that began reading while existing clients are reading, and while the INSERT LOW_PRIORITY statement is waiting. It is possible, therefore, for a client that issues an INSERT LOW_PRIORITY statement to wait for a very long time (or even forever) in a read-heavy environment. (This is in contrast to INSERT DELAYED, which lets the client continue at once. Note that LOW_PRIORITY should normally not be used with MyISAM tables because doing so disables concurrent inserts. See Section 7.10.3, “Concurrent Inserts”.

    If you specify HIGH_PRIORITY, it overrides the effect of the --low-priority-updates option if the server was started with that option. It also causes concurrent inserts not to be used. See Section 7.10.3, “Concurrent Inserts”.

    LOW_PRIORITY and HIGH_PRIORITY affect only storage engines that use only table-level locking (such as MyISAM, MEMORY, and MERGE).

  • If you use the IGNORE keyword, errors that occur while executing the INSERT statement are treated as warnings instead. For example, without IGNORE, a row that duplicates an existing UNIQUE index or PRIMARY KEY value in the table causes a duplicate-key error and the statement is aborted. With IGNORE, the row still is not inserted, but no error is issued.

    IGNORE has a similar effect on inserts into partitioned tables where no partition matching a given value is found. Without IGNORE, such INSERT statements are aborted with an error; however, when INSERT IGNORE is used, the insert operation fails silently for the row containing the unmatched value, but any rows that are matched are inserted. For an example, see Section 18.2.2, “LIST Partitioning”.

    Data conversions that would trigger errors abort the statement if IGNORE is not specified. With IGNORE, invalid values are adjusted to the closest values and inserted; warnings are produced but the statement does not abort. You can determine with the mysql_info() C API function how many rows were actually inserted into the table.

  • If you specify ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE, and a row is inserted that would cause a duplicate value in a UNIQUE index or PRIMARY KEY, an UPDATE of the old row is performed. The affected-rows value per row is 1 if the row is inserted as a new row and 2 if an existing row is updated. See Section, “INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE Syntax”.

Inserting into a table requires the INSERT privilege for the table. If the ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE clause is used and a duplicate key causes an UPDATE to be performed instead, the statement requires the UPDATE privilege for the columns to be updated. For columns that are read but not modified you need only the SELECT privilege (such as for a column referenced only on the right hand side of an col_name=expr assignment in an ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE clause).

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