What does SQL stand for?

Let’s start this blog with a quick and easy answer to a question that many people have – What does SQL stand for?

SQL stands for structured query language.

Blog finished?

No, you need more answers than just that to understand SQL and what it means.


Well, structured query language code, or SQL (often pronounced as “sequel”), is used by developers worldwide. It is the code for nearly all relational database management systems and has been since the late 1970s. SQL is a standard coding language used to interact with and query data within relational databases. This can include many different data-related functions including adding, deleting, searching, updating, optimizing, and so on.

The database systems we are talking about can be anything that collects and organises data. This could range from a small app to large servers. Structured query language (SQL) helps us to use and interact with these database systems on the back end with different types of SQL commands. Many databases will have their own proprietary extensions and this varies the data query language and how it is used.

So, with a brief overview of what SQL stands for and what it is out of the way, let’s move on to look at what is involved in SQL in finer detail and why it is important to know about.

What is involved in SQL?

There are a few main components of SQL to discuss. In this section, we are going to talk about what is involved in SQL by splitting the content into these components. These include the process involved with SQL, the commands used, and the languages behind those commands.

We will start with the backend process first.

The SQL process

When SQL is used in relational databases, there is a process that goes on that we can’t see on the front end. You don’t need to know about the backend process in order to use SQL, but it is pretty interesting knowledge at the very least.

The process flows in 4 steps:

  1. Compilation/Query Parser: This first step ensures the SQL syntax of the query is standard
  2. Complication/Binding: Then, the query moves on to be checked for schematics and a query plan can then be built
  3. Optimization: The best possible algorithm is picked for the query plan already established
  4. Execution: The SQL statement runs and the query plan is executed


SQL queries run through a very logical procedure. To find out more about this procedure and what goes into the SQL language elements, keep reading our next sections for more.

SQL statements and commands

There are standard SQL commands (or SQL statements) that most database systems will use to retrieve data and perform tasks. Some relational database management systems may have variations on these for their own specific processes, but they largely stay the same across the board.

These commands help to navigate relational databases and datasets quickly. They are an efficient way to retrieve data and interact with the data in various ways. Using SQL statements or commands significantly cuts down time spent searching through data and manipulating databases.

The main standard SQL commands include:

  • CREATE – Creates tables, structures and objects
  • INSERT – Creates a record and inserts data into a table or row
  • UPDATE – Updates and modifies one or more records within a database
  • DELETE – Does exactly what it says on the tin, deletes existing records and specified rows of data
  • SELECT – Selecting data by certain requirements in a search
  • DROP – Quickly deletes entire tables, a view of a table, or other objects
  • ALTER – Modifies database objects
  • GRANT – Grants certain privileges to a user
  • REVOKE – Takes back these privileges from users

There are more commands to be found in modified versions of SQL, but these main commands make up the base of most SQL queries.

Types of SQL language

These aforementioned SQL statements or commands can be grouped into specific categories, which are as follows:

  • Data Definition Language (DDL): Includes commands CREATE, ALTER, DROP
  • Data Manipulation Language (DML): Includes commands SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE
  • Data Control Language (DCL): Includes commands GRANT, REVOKE
  • Data Query Language (DQL): Used to perform queries and retrieve data via COMMAND statements only

These groups help streamline the commands into accessible categories. SQL on the surface may appear very technical and difficult to get your head around, but it is much more accessible than you may initially think. It is something that everyone can use to their own advantage.

When it comes to learning SQL, there is a lot of information online. Including free spaces where you can experiment with the language and its commands for yourself, such as this one.

Why should you use structured query language?

There are a few advantages of using structured query language in your work. Namely:

  • Speed and efficiency: SQL language elements help examine and manipulate data very quickly and with insightful results
  • Easy to learn and use: No expert knowledge of coding is needed to use SQL language
  • Digital accessibility: SQL can be used to work with relational databases and access data on phones, tablets, laptops, and more
  • Insight and perspective: Using SQL can help you gain a range of insights into specific data, you can make different views of the same database

SQL is useful to a wide range of people, from professional data scientists and database administrators to people starting out in Ecommerce for the first time.

Data analysis is key to meeting your goals in a project or as a company. Having insight and perspective into data is one of the best tools available in software development. Only when you are making decisions based on accurate and appropriate data are you headed for success. SQL is a great road to this analysis.

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