MSDN Library

LEFT (Transact-SQL)

Returns the left part of a character string with the specified number of characters.

Applies to: SQL Server (SQL Server 2008 through current version), Azure SQL Database.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions

LEFT ( character_expression , integer_expression )


Is an expression of character or binary data. character_expression can be a constant, variable, or column. character_expression can be of any data type, except text or ntext, that can be implicitly converted to varchar or nvarchar. Otherwise, use the CAST function to explicitly convert character_expression.


Is a positive integer that specifies how many characters of the character_expression will be returned. If integer_expression is negative, an error is returned. If integer_expression is type bigint and contains a large value, character_expression must be of a large data type such as varchar(max).

The integer_expression parameter counts a UTF-16 surrogate character as one character.

Returns varchar when character_expression is a non-Unicode character data type.

Returns nvarchar when character_expression is a Unicode character data type.

When using SC collations, the integer_expression parameter counts a UTF-16 surrogate pair as one character. For more information, see Collation and Unicode Support.

A. Using LEFT with a column

The following example returns the five leftmost characters of each product name in the Product table of the AdventureWorks2012 database.

FROM Production.Product

B. Using LEFT with a character string

The following example uses LEFT to return the two leftmost characters of the character string abcdefg.

SELECT LEFT('abcdefg',2);

Here is the result set.


(1 row(s) affected)

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