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What is the use of COALESCE in SQL Server

Let us understand the use of COALESCE with the help of an example.

In this example, the Candidate table is shown to include three columns with information about a Candidate:
1. Candidate_id
2. PrimaryEmail
3. SecondaryEmail

COALESCE in the SELECT statement below, selects the PrimaryEmail if it is not null. If the PrimaryEmail is null then SecondaryEmail will be selected. If both PrimaryEmail and SecondaryEmail is present then only PrimaryEmail is selected. So, COALESCE returns the first nonnull column among the list of columns passed. If both PrimaryEmail and SecondaryEmail is NULL, COALESCE returns NULL.

COALESCE can also be used in joins as shown in the example below. If the Candidate table has a non null value in the Email column, then the value is selected. If the Email column is null in the Candidate Table then, CompanyEmail from CandidateCompany Table is selected.


  1. Thanks venkat! this is the thing which i came across for the first time now i will start make use of it in real time scenarios

  2. yup realy great thanks from my side vijay raj gupta

  3. but the problem is that it also displays null columns in that table if some of the columns in having both primary and sec is null.....

  4. The best website ever for the concepts to understand in a solid way.... Thank you Venkat.

  5. COALESCE can also be used to concatenate multiple rows as a single comma separated row.

    declare @sample varchar(50)
    select @sample = @sample + COALESCE(@sample, ',') + colname
    from tablename

  6. Thanks
    This way make easy in practice

  7. COALESCE can also be used to concatenate multiple rows as a single comma separated row use bellow query(SLIGHT MODIFIED ABOVE QUERY)

    SELECT @Names = COALESCE(@Names + ', ','') + NAME FROM EMPLOYEE
    SELECT @Names

    1. but name should not a null value in name if any null value exist then use where name is not null

  8. Thanks Venkat..I have never use COALESCE as I was not aware of it. but now I came across it through you article.

  9. Awesome explanation...toooooo gooooood..

  10. We also can use CASE instead of using COALESCE function, so my concern which one is fast

  11. Above Questions are using Fresher Or Experience candidate?


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