SQLite Operators: A Comprehensive Guide

Operators are an essential part of SQL queries to perform operations like comparisons and calculations. Mastering the operators in SQLite allows you to query and manipulate your database efficiently.

The goal of this guide is to provide a comprehensive overview of operators in SQLite. We will cover the basics like arithmetic, comparison, and logical operators, and more advanced ones like EXISTS, GLOB, and IN. You will learn the syntax and see examples of using these operators in queries.

By the end, you will have a solid understanding of SQLite operators, enabling you to write complex queries and get the most out of your SQLite database.

Also read: Introduction to SQLite: The lightweight, cross-platform database solution

What is an Operator in SQLite?

An operator in SQLite is a symbol or keyword that performs operations on one or more values in an expression.

Operators allow you to compare values, perform calculations, test for NULL values, and combine expressions. SQLite supports a wide range of operators:

  • Arithmetic Operators: For mathematical calculations
  • Comparison Operators: For comparing expressions
  • Logical Operators: For combining multiple boolean expressions
  • Bitwise Operators: For manipulating individual bits in values
  • NULL Operators: For handling NULL values

These operators can be used in SQL statements like SELECT, INSERT, and UPDATE to filter, sort, and transform data.

Understanding what each operator does and how to use them properly is key to writing efficient SQL queries in SQLite.

Basic SQLite Operators

Let’s start by looking at some of the basic and commonly used operators in SQLite.

SQLite Arithmetic Operators

Arithmetic operators perform mathematical calculations between two expressions.

Here are the arithmetic operators supported by SQLite:

  • Addition (+): Adds two values
  • Subtraction (-): Subtracts two values
  • Multiplication (*): Multiplies two values
  • Division (/): Divides two values
  • Modulo (%): Returns the remainder after division

Here are some examples of using arithmetic operators:

### SQLite addition operator
SELECT 2 + 3; 

-- Output: 5

### SQLite subtraction operator
SELECT 10 - 5;

-- Output: 5 

### SQLite multiplication operator
SELECT 2 * 3; 

-- Output: 6

### SQLite division operator
SELECT 10 / 2;  

-- Output: 5

### SQLite modulo operator
SELECT 10 % 3;

-- Output: 1

Arithmetic operators can be used when selecting, inserting or updating data. They allow you to perform calculations as part of the query.

Also read: SQLite Data Types: An In-Depth Guide

SQLite Comparison Operators

Comparison operators are used to compare two expressions. They evaluate a boolean value based on whether the comparison is true or false.

The comparison operators supported by SQLite are:

  • Equals (=): Checks if two values are equal
  • Not Equals (!= or <>): Checks if two values are not equal
  • Greater Than (>): Checks if the left value is greater than the right value
  • Less Than (<): Checks if the left value is less than the right value
  • Greater Than or Equal To (>=): Checks if the left value is greater than or equal to the right value
  • Less Than or Equal To (<=): Checks if the left value is less than or equal to the right value

Here are some examples of using comparison operators in SQLite:

### SQLite equals comparison operator
SELECT 2 = 2;

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite not equals comparison operator
SELECT 2 != 3; 

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite greater than comparison operator  
SELECT 3 > 2;

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite less than comparison operator
SELECT 2 < 3; 

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite greater than or equal to comparison operator
SELECT 2 >= 1;

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite less than or equal to comparison operator
SELECT 3 <= 3;

-- Output: 1 (true)

Comparison operators are very useful when filtering data in the WHERE clause of SELECT, UPDATE and DELETE statements.

SQLite Logical Operators

Logical operators are used to combine multiple boolean expressions and evaluate them to a single boolean result.

The logical operators supported by SQLite are:

  • AND: True if both expressions are true
  • OR: True if either expression is true
  • NOT: Inverts a boolean expression (flips true to false and vice versa)

Here are some examples of logical operators:

### SQLite AND logical operator
SELECT 1 = 1 AND 2 = 2;

-- Output: 1 (true)

### SQLite OR logical operator
SELECT 1 = 1 OR 2 = 3; 

-- Output: 1 (true) 

### SQLite NOT logical operator
SELECT NOT 1 = 1; 

Logical operators allow you to combine multiple conditions efficiently in a WHERE clause. For example:

This query will only select records where both conditions are true.

Also read: SQLite Syntax: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Advanced SQLite Operators

SQLite has powerful advanced operators like EXISTS, GLOB, IN, etc. Let’s learn about them.

SQLite EXISTS Operator

The EXISTS operator allows you to check if a subquery returns any rows. It returns true if the subquery has one or more rows and false otherwise.

Here is the syntax:

EXISTS (subquery);

For example:

SELECT column1 FROM table1

This query will return rows from table1 only if the subquery on table2 returns at least one row.

Some key points about EXISTS:

  • The subquery can refer to objects in the outer query, allowing correlated subqueries.
  • The actual content returned by the subquery is irrelevant to the EXISTS clause. It only matters whether rows are returned or not.
  • Using EXISTS is faster than IN in many cases, as it exits as soon as it finds a match.

SQLite GLOB Operator

The SQLite GLOB operator is used for pattern matching in SQLite. It is similar to the LIKE operator but allows the use of Unix-style wildcards:

  • ***** matches any sequence of zero or more characters
  • ? matches any single character
  • [] specifies a range or set of matching characters

For example:

### SQLite GLOB operator  
WHERE column GLOB 'app*';

This query will return rows where the column starts with ‘app.’

Other examples:

WHERE column GLOB '?ear'; 

-- Matches 4 character values ending with ear


WHERE column GLOB '[aeiou]';

-- Matches any single vowel character

GLOB makes LIKE queries more concise and easier to read. But LIKE is still useful when using % for multiple-character wildcards.

IN Operator

The IN operator allows you to check if a value matches any value in a list. It is a shorthand for multiple OR conditions.

Here is the syntax:

expression IN (value1, value2, ...);

For example:

### SQLite IN operator
SELECT * FROM table  
WHERE column IN (2, 4, 6);

This query will return rows where the column value is 2, 4, or 6.

Some key points about IN:

  • The list of values can be another SELECT subquery.
  • IN allows you to easily check membership in a dynamic set of values.
  • IN is faster than multiple OR clauses in many cases.

In summary, IN is very useful for checking multiple values in a WHERE clause.

SQLite Operator Precedence

When multiple operators are used in an expression, operator precedence determines the order in which they are evaluated.

SQLite follows the standard order of operations:

  1. Parentheses: Expressions inside parentheses are evaluated first
  2. NOT
  3. *, /, %
  4. +, –
  5. <, <=, >, >=
  6. =, !=, IS, LIKE, GLOB, REGEXP
  7. AND
  8. OR

For example:

SELECT 2 + 3 * 5; 

-- Output: 17

Here, multiplication has higher precedence than addition. So 3 * 5 is done first.

You can override operator precedence by using parentheses. For example:

SELECT (2 + 3) * 5;

-- Output: 25

Knowing the precedence helps avoid errors and unexpected results in complex expressions. When in doubt, use parentheses explicitly.

Practical Examples of SQLite Operators

Now, let’s see some practical examples of using SQLite operators in queries.

Using Operators in SELECT Statements

You can leverage these operators in the SELECT and WHERE clauses for powerful queries.

Simple examples:

SELECT column1 + column2 AS sum
FROM table;

Performs addition of two columns.

FROM table
WHERE column1 = 123;

Filters rows where column1 equals 123.

FROM table
WHERE column1 > 100 AND column2 = 'foo';

Filters rows based on two conditions.

More complex examples:

SELECT *, column1 / column2 * 100 AS percentage 
FROM table 
WHERE column1 > 1000 
   OR column2 IN (2, 4, 6);

Calculates a percentage column and filters rows based on multiple conditions.

FROM table1
              FROM table2
              WHERE table2.column = table1.column);

Correlated subquery with EXISTS.

As you can see, by combining multiple operators and clauses, you can make very powerful queries in SQLite.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

While SQLite operators are very useful, some common pitfalls need to be avoided:

Incorrect data types: Operators work with specific data types. Using mismatching types like text vs integer can result in unexpected errors and behavior. Always check your data types.

Operator misuse: Using < instead of <= or forgetting parentheses can significantly alter query logic. Verify you are using the right operators.

Unavailable operators: SQLite does not support some mathematical or string operators that exist in other databases. Know which operators are available.

Edge cases: Operators may return NULL or unanticipated values for edge cases like dividing by zero. Handle edge cases properly.

Performance: Improper use of operators can result in slow queries. WHERE and JOIN clauses should be optimized based on data distribution.

Testing: Thoroughly test queries with different data samples to catch operator logic issues.

Adhering to best practices for data types, query optimization, and testing can help avoid these common operator pitfalls.

FAQs about SQLite Operators

Here are some frequently asked questions about SQLite operators:

What is an operator in SQLite?

Operators are symbols or keywords that perform operations like arithmetic, comparison and logical operations on values and expressions in SQLite.

What is the equals operator in SQLite?

The equals operator is = and is used to check for equality between two expressions in SQLite.

What is the not operator in SQLite?

The NOT operator inverts a boolean expression. So NOT TRUE evaluates to FALSE. It is useful for inverting conditions in WHERE clauses.

Can SQLite handle JSON?

No, SQLite does not have native JSON support. But there are extensions like JSON1 that provide JSON handling capabilities.


SQLite operators allow you to express various data transformations and logic in your queries.

We covered arithmetic, comparison, and logical operators for basic queries. We also looked at advanced operators like EXISTS, GLOB, and IN for complex subqueries and pattern matching.

By mastering these SQLite operators, you can efficiently filter, calculate, compare, combine, and transform data in your SQLite database.

The key is properly understanding what each operator does and how it interacts with other clauses. Getting the operator logic right is critical for building robust queries that return correct results.

Many other features, like joins and aggregations, can power up your SQLite skills further. But, a solid grasp of operators must unlock the full potential of SQLite for your applications.

Further resources: