Skip to main content


— update rows in a table


[ WITH [RECURSIVE] <with_query> [, ...] ]
UPDATE <table_name> [ [ AS ] alias ]
SET { <column_name> = { <expression> | DEFAULT } |
( <column_name> [, ...] ) = [ ROW ] ( { <expression> | DEFAULT } [, ...] ) |
( <column_name> [, ...] ) = ( <sub_select> )
} [, ...]
[ FROM <from_list> ]
[ WHERE <condition> ]
[ RETURNING { * | <output_expression> } [ [ AS ] <output_name> ] [, ...] ]


UPDATE changes the values of the specified columns in all rows that satisfy the condition. Only the columns to be modified need be mentioned in the SET clause; columns not explicitly modified retain their previous values.

There are two ways to modify a table using information contained in other tables in the database: using sub-selects, or specifying additional tables in the FROM clause. Which technique is more appropriate depends on the specific circumstances.

The ROW keyword is optional and does not add any semantics in this case. It is required according to the SQL standard, and for compatibility with the standard, we recommend using the ROW keyword.

The optional RETURNING clause causes UPDATE to compute and return value(s) based on each row actually updated. Any expression using the table's columns, and/or columns of other tables mentioned in FROM, can be computed. The new (post-update) values of the table's columns are used. The syntax of the RETURNING list is identical to that of the output list of SELECT.


The WITH clause allows you to specify one or more subqueries that can be referenced by name in the UPDATE query. See SELECT for details.
The name (optionally schema-qualified) of the table to update.
A substitute name for the target table. When an alias is provided, it completely hides the actual name of the table. For example, given UPDATE foo AS f, the remainder of the UPDATE statement must refer to this table as f not foo.
The name of a column in the table named by <table_name>. Do not include the table's name in the specification of a target column — for example, UPDATE table_name SET table_name.col = 1 is invalid.
An expression to assign to the column. The expression can use the old values of this and other columns in the table.
Set the column to its default value (which will be NULL if no specific default expression has been assigned to it).
A SELECT sub-query that produces as many output columns as are listed in the parenthesized column list preceding it. The sub-query must yield no more than one row when executed. If it yields one row, its column values are assigned to the target columns; if it yields no rows, NULL values are assigned to the target columns. The sub-query can refer to old values of the current row of the table being updated.
A list of table expressions, allowing columns from other tables to appear in the WHERE condition and the update expressions. This is similar to the list of tables that can be specified in the FROM clause of a SELECT statement. Note that the target table must not appear in the <from_list>, unless you intend a self-join (in which case it must appear with an alias in the <from_list>).
An expression that returns a value of type boolean. Only rows for which this expression returns true will be updated.
An expression to be computed and returned by the UPDATE command after each row is updated. The expression can use any column names of the table named by <table_name> or table(s) listed in FROM. Write * to return all columns.
A name to use for a returned column.


If the UPDATE command contains a RETURNING clause, the result will be similar to that of a SELECT statement containing the columns and values defined in the RETURNING list, computed over the row(s) updated by the command.

Referring to other tables

When a FROM clause is present, what essentially happens is that the target table is joined to the tables mentioned in the <from_list>, and each output row of the join represents an update operation for the target table. When using FROM you should ensure that the join produces at most one output row for each row to be modified. In other words, a target row shouldn't join to more than one row from the other table(s). If it does, then only one of the join rows will be used to update the target row, but which one will be used is not readily predictable.


Change the word Drama to Dramatic in the column kind of the table films:

UPDATE films SET kind = 'Dramatic' WHERE kind = 'Drama';

Adjust temperature entries and reset precipitation to its default value in one row of the table weather:

UPDATE weather SET temp_lo = temp_lo+1, temp_hi = temp_lo+15, prcp = DEFAULT
WHERE city = 'San Francisco' AND date = '2003-07-03';

Perform the same operation and return the updated entries:

UPDATE weather SET temp_lo = temp_lo+1, temp_hi = temp_lo+15, prcp = DEFAULT
WHERE city = 'San Francisco' AND date = '2003-07-03'
RETURNING temp_lo, temp_hi, prcp;

Use the alternative column-list syntax to do the same update:

UPDATE weather SET (temp_lo, temp_hi, prcp) = (temp_lo+1, temp_lo+15, DEFAULT)
WHERE city = 'San Francisco' AND date = '2003-07-03';

Increment the sales count of the salesperson who manages the account for Acme Corporation, using the FROM clause syntax:

UPDATE employees
SET sales_count = sales_count + 1
FROM accounts
WHERE = 'Acme Corporation'
AND = accounts.sales_person;

Perform the same operation, using a sub-select in the WHERE clause:

UPDATE employees
SET sales_count = sales_count + 1
WHERE id =
(SELECT sales_person FROM accounts WHERE name = 'Acme Corporation');

Update contact names in an accounts table to match the currently assigned salesperson:

UPDATE accounts
SET (contact_first_name, contact_last_name) =
(SELECT first_name, last_name FROM employees
WHERE = accounts.sales_person);

A similar result could be accomplished with a join:

UPDATE account
SET contact_first_name = first_name,
contact_last_name = last_name
FROM employees WHERE = accounts.sales_person;

However, the second query may give unexpected results if is not a unique key, whereas the first query is guaranteed to raise an error if there are multiple id matches. Also, if there is no match for a particular accounts.sales_person entry, the first query will set the corresponding name fields to NULL, whereas the second query will not update that row at all.

Update statistics in a summary table to match the current data:

UPDATE summary s SET (sum_x, sum_y, avg_x, avg_y) =
(SELECT sum(x), sum(y), avg(x), avg(y) FROM data d
WHERE d.group_id = s.group_id);


This command conforms to the SQL standard, except that the FROM and RETURNING clauses are Hyper extensions (also available in PostgreSQL), as is the ability to use WITH with UPDATE.

Some other database systems offer a FROM option in which the target table is supposed to be listed again within FROM. That is not how Hyper interprets FROM. Be careful when porting applications that use this extension.