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COALESCE (Transact-SQL)

Returns the first nonnull expression among its arguments.

Topic link iconTransact-SQL Syntax Conventions


COALESCE (expression [ ,...n ] )

expression

Is an expression of any type.

Returns the data type of expression with the highest data type precedence. If all expressions are nonnullable, the result is typed as nonnullable.

If all arguments are NULL, COALESCE returns NULL.

NoteNote

At least one of the null values must be a typed NULL.

COALESCE(expression1,...n) is equivalent to the following CASE expression:

CASE

   WHEN (expression1 IS NOT NULL) THEN expression1

   WHEN (expression2 IS NOT NULL) THEN expression2

   ...

   ELSE expressionN

END

ISNULL and COALESCE though equivalent, can behave differently. An expression involving ISNULL with non-null parameters is considered to be NOT NULL, while expressions involving COALESCE with non-null parameters is considered to be NULL. In SQL Server, to index expressions involving COALESCE with non-null parameters, the computed column can be persisted using the PERSISTED column attribute as in the following statement:

CREATE TABLE #CheckSumTest 
    (
        ID int identity ,
        Num int DEFAULT ( RAND() * 100 ) ,
        RowCheckSum AS COALESCE( CHECKSUM( id , num ) , 0 ) PERSISTED PRIMARY KEY
    );

Simple Example

The following example demonstrates how COALESCE selects the data from the first column that has a non-null value.

USE AdventureWorks ;

GO

SELECT Name, Class, Color, ProductNumber,

COALESCE(Class, Color, ProductNumber) AS FirstNotNull

FROM Production.Product ;

GO

Complex Example

In the following example, the wages table includes three columns with information about the yearly wages of the employees: the hourly wage, salary, and commission. However, an employee receives only one type of pay. To determine the total amount paid to all employees, use COALESCE to receive only the nonnull value found in hourly_wage, salary, and commission.

SET NOCOUNT ON;
GO
USE tempdb;
IF OBJECT_ID('dbo.wages') IS NOT NULL
    DROP TABLE wages;
GO
CREATE TABLE dbo.wages
(
    emp_id        tinyint   identity,
    hourly_wage   decimal   NULL,
    salary        decimal   NULL,
    commission    decimal   NULL,
    num_sales     tinyint   NULL
);
GO
INSERT dbo.wages (hourly_wage, salary, commission, num_sales)
VALUES
    (10.00, NULL, NULL, NULL),
    (20.00, NULL, NULL, NULL),
    (30.00, NULL, NULL, NULL),
    (40.00, NULL, NULL, NULL),
    (NULL, 10000.00, NULL, NULL),
    (NULL, 20000.00, NULL, NULL),
    (NULL, 30000.00, NULL, NULL),
    (NULL, 40000.00, NULL, NULL),
    (NULL, NULL, 15000, 3),
    (NULL, NULL, 25000, 2),
    (NULL, NULL, 20000, 6),
    (NULL, NULL, 14000, 4);
GO
SET NOCOUNT OFF;
GO
SELECT CAST(COALESCE(hourly_wage * 40 * 52, 
   salary, 
   commission * num_sales) AS money) AS 'Total Salary' 
FROM dbo.wages
ORDER BY 'Total Salary';
GO

Here is the result set.

Total Salary

------------

20800.0000

41600.0000

62400.0000

83200.0000

10000.0000

20000.0000

30000.0000

40000.0000

45000.0000

50000.0000

120000.0000

56000.0000

(12 row(s) affected)

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