SQL Functions (Scalar/Single Row)

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SQL provides several built-in scalar functions. Each scalar function takes one value as input and returns one value as output for each row in a result set.

You use scalar functions wherever an expression is allowed within a T-SQL statement.


  • CAST ( expression AS data_type [ ( length ) ] )
  • CONVERT ( data_type [ ( length ) ] , expression [ , style ] )
  • PARSE ( string_value AS data_type [ USING culture ] )
  • DATENAME ( datepart , date )
  • GETDATE ( )
  • DATEDIFF ( datepart , startdate , enddate )
  • DATEADD (datepart , number , date )
  • CHOOSE ( index, val_1, val_2 [, val_n ] )
  • IIF ( boolean_expression, true_value, false_value )
  • SIGN ( numeric_expression )
  • POWER ( float_expression , y )


Scalar or Single-Row functions are used to operate each row of data in the result set, as opposed to aggregate functions which operate on the entire result set.

There are ten types of scalar functions.

  1. Configuration functions provide information about the configuration of the current SQL instance.
  2. Conversion functions convert data into the correct data type for a given operation. For example, these types of functions can reformat information by converting a string to a date or number to allow two different types to be compared.
  3. Date and time functions manipulate fields containing date and time values. They can return numeric, date, or string values. For example, you can use a function to retrieve the current day of the week or year or to retrieve only the year from the date.

The values returned by date and time functions depend on the date and time set for the operating system of the computer running the SQL instance.

  1. Logical function that performs operations using logical operators. It evaluates a set of conditions and returns a single result.
  2. Mathematical functions perform mathematical operations, or calculations, on numeric expressions. This type of function returns a single numeric value.
  3. Metadata functions retrieve information about a specified database, such as its name and database objects.
  4. Security functions provide information that you can use to manage the security of a database, such as information about database users and roles.
  5. String functions perform operations on string values and return either numeric or string values.

Using string functions, you can, for example, combine data, extract a substring, compare strings, or convert a string to all uppercase or lowercase characters.

  1. System functions perform operations and return information about values, objects, and settings for the current SQL instance
  2. System statistical functions provide various statistics about the current SQL instance – for example, so that you can monitor the system's current performance levels.

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