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Making Sense of Time: An Introduction to SQL Server’s DateTime Functions

Making Sense of Time: An Introduction to SQL Server’s DateTime Functions

When it comes to managing and manipulating data, there’s no doubt that SQL Server is one of the most popular choices. One of the reasons for its popularity is the rich set of functions it provides for a variety of data types. In this blog post, we’re going to delve into one of the most critical and widely used data types – the DateTime data type. If you’re looking to understand SQL Server’s DateTime functions and how to use them effectively, you’re in the right place.

Understanding the DateTime Data Type

Before we delve into the functions, it’s essential to understand what the DateTime data type is. In SQL Server, DateTime is a data type that stores both date and time information. It ranges from January 1, 1753, to December 31, 9999, with an accuracy of 3.33 milliseconds.

The format of the DateTime data type is ‘YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss:fff’, where ‘fff’ represents fractions of a second. Keep in mind that while you can enter fractions of a second, SQL Server rounds to increments of .000, .003, or .007 seconds.

DateTime Functions in SQL Server

SQL Server provides a wide range of functions that allow you to manipulate the DateTime data type. Here are some of the most commonly used ones:

  1. GETDATE(): This function returns the current date and time. Example:
   SELECT GETDATE() AS 'Current Date and Time';
  1. DATEADD(): This function adds a specified time interval to a DateTime value. Example:
   SELECT DATEADD(year, 1, GETDATE()) AS 'One Year From Now';

This query will return the date and time one year from the current date and time.

  1. DATEDIFF(): This function returns the difference between two DateTime values, based on a specified interval. Example:
   SELECT DATEDIFF(year, '2020-01-01', '2023-01-01') AS 'Years Difference';

This query will return the number of years between the two specified dates.

  1. DAY(), MONTH(), YEAR(): These functions return the day, month, or year part of a DateTime value. Example:

This query will return the current day, month, and year.

  1. CONVERT(): This function converts a value from one data type to another. It is often used to format DateTime values. Example:
   SELECT CONVERT(VARCHAR, GETDATE(), 103) AS 'Formatted Date';

This query will return the current date in the format ‘dd/mm/yyyy’.


Understanding and utilizing SQL Server’s DateTime functions can significantly improve your data manipulation capabilities. Whether you’re calculating durations, scheduling tasks, or simply formatting dates for readability, these functions offer versatile solutions to handle date and time data effectively.

Remember, the key to mastering these functions lies in practice. So, don’t just read – try out these functions in your SQL Server environment. Happy querying!

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