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Subqueries with Comparison Operators

Subqueries can be introduced with one of the comparison operators (=, < >, >, > =, <, ! >, ! <, or < =).

A subquery introduced with an unmodified comparison operator (a comparison operator not followed by ANY or ALL) must return a single value rather than a list of values, like subqueries introduced with IN. If such a subquery returns more than one value, Microsoft SQL Server displays an error message.

To use a subquery introduced with an unmodified comparison operator, you must be familiar enough with your data and with the nature of the problem to know that the subquery will return exactly one value.

For example, if you assume each sales person only covers one sales territory, and you want to find the customers located in the territory covered by Linda Mitchell, you can write a statement with a subquery introduced with the simple = comparison operator.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
SELECT CustomerID
FROM Sales.Customer
WHERE TerritoryID =
    (SELECT TerritoryID
     FROM Sales.SalesPerson
     WHERE SalesPersonID = 276)

If, however, Linda Mitchell covered more than one sales territory, then an error message would result. Instead of the = comparison operator, an IN formulation could be used (= ANY also works).

Subqueries introduced with unmodified comparison operators often include aggregate functions, because these return a single value. For example, the following statement finds the names of all products whose list price is greater than the average list price.

Use AdventureWorks
SELECT Name
FROM Production.Product
WHERE ListPrice >
    (SELECT AVG (ListPrice)
     FROM Production.Product)

Because subqueries introduced with unmodified comparison operators must return a single value, they cannot include GROUP BY or HAVING clauses unless you know the GROUP BY or HAVING clause itself returns a single value. For example, the following query finds the products priced higher than the lowest-priced product that is in subcategory 14.

Use AdventureWorks
SELECT Name
FROM Production.Product
WHERE ListPrice >
    (SELECT MIN (ListPrice)
     FROM Production.Product
     GROUP BY ProductSubcategoryID
     HAVING ProductSubcategoryID = 14)

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