Knowledge Drops

SQL Error: "Syntax error at or near:"

  • 3 July 2021
  • 0 replies
  • 8230 views

Userlevel 4

  Last tested: Feb 2021

 

Overview

 

This SQL error generally means that somewhere in the query, there is invalid syntax.
Some common examples:

  • Using a database-specific SQL for the wrong database (eg BigQuery supports DATE_ADD, but Redshift supports DATEADD)
  • Typo in the SQL (missing comma, misspelled word, etc)
  • Missing a sql clause (missed from, join, select, etc)
  • An object does not exist in the database or is not accessible from the current query (eg referencing orders.id when there is no orders table joined in the current query, etc)

In some circumstances, the database error message may display extra detail about where the error was raised, which can be helpful in narrowing down where to look.

Error Message

 

SQL ERROR: syntax error at or near

Troubleshooting

 

This should generally be the first step to troubleshoot any SQL syntax error in a large query: iteratively comment out blocks of SQL to narrow down where the problem is.

TIP: To make this process easier, change the group by clause to use position references
eg: group by 1,2,3,4,5 instead of group by orders.status, orders.date, to_char(...)...
as well as separate the where and having clauses onto multiple lines.

So for example, say we have the following query:

play_arrow

WITH cte AS (
select id, status, sales_amountfrom orders
)
select status, foo.date, sum(cte.sales_amount), count(*) from cte
join foo on cte.date = foo.date
group by status, foo.date
order by 3 desc

We could start by running just the portion in the CTE:

play_arrow

-- WITH cte AS (
select id, status, sales_amountfrom orders
-- )
-- select status, foo.date, sum(cte.sales_amount), count(*)
-- from cte
-- join foo on cte.date = foo.date
-- group by 1, 2
-- order by 3 desc

Then strip out the aggregates and portions related to them

play_arrow

WITH cte AS (
select id, status, sales_amountfrom orders
)
select status, foo.date, -- sum(cte.sales_amount), count(*)
from cte
join foo on cte.date = foo.date
-- group by 1, 2
-- order by 3 desc

Iteratively stripping out / adding back in portions of the query until you find the minimum query to trigger the error.

  • Lookup functions and syntax If the query is small enough, or if we've narrowed the scope enough with 1, google all the functions used in the query and verify that they exist and are being used correctly.

  • Verify all objects exist Verify that you’ve joined all tables used in the select, where, and having clause, and that those tables exist in the db. Once we've narrowed things down from 1, also check that each column exists in the table specified.

 

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