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Using Joins

Join conditions can be specified in either the FROM or WHERE clauses; specifying them in the FROM clause is recommended. WHERE and HAVING clauses can also contain search conditions to further filter the rows selected by the join conditions.

Joins can be categorized as:

  • Inner joins (the typical join operation, which uses some comparison operator like = or <>). These include equi-joins and natural joins.

    Inner joins use a comparison operator to match rows from two tables based on the values in common columns from each table. For example, retrieving all rows where the student identification number is the same in both the students and courses tables.

  • Outer joins. Outer joins can be a left, a right, or full outer join.

    Outer joins are specified with one of the following sets of keywords when they are specified in the FROM clause:

    • LEFT JOIN or LEFT OUTER JOIN

      The result set of a left outer join includes all the rows from the left table specified in the LEFT OUTER clause, not just the ones in which the joined columns match. When a row in the left table has no matching rows in the right table, the associated result set row contains null values for all select list columns coming from the right table.

    • RIGHT JOIN or RIGHT OUTER JOIN

      A right outer join is the reverse of a left outer join. All rows from the right table are returned. Null values are returned for the left table any time a right table row has no matching row in the left table.

    • FULL JOIN or FULL OUTER JOIN

      A full outer join returns all rows in both the left and right tables. Any time a row has no match in the other table, the select list columns from the other table contain null values. When there is a match between the tables, the entire result set row contains data values from the base tables.

  • Cross joins

    Cross joins return all rows from the left table. Each row from the left table is combined with all rows from the right table. Cross joins are also called Cartesian products.

For example, here is an inner join retrieving the employees who are also sales persons:

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
SELECT e.BusinessEntityID
FROM HumanResources.Employee AS e
    INNER JOIN Sales.SalesPerson AS s
    ON e.BusinessEntityID = s.BusinessEntityID

The tables or views in the FROM clause can be specified in any order with an inner join or full outer join. However, the order of tables or views specified when using either a left or right outer join is important. For more information about table ordering with left or right outer joins, see Using Outer Joins.

For more information about how to use different types of joins, see the following topics:

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