The PostgreSQL DELETE command is an essential tool for any database manager. This functionality allows you to remove any unnecessary rows from a database table with ease, ensuring your data remains clean and accurate. In this in-depth tutorial, we’ll walk you through all the aspects of this critical command.

Understanding the PostgreSQL DELETE Command

The DELETE command in PostgreSQL serves the primary purpose of removing specific rows from a table. It works by identifying the rows that match a certain condition and then removing them. This function is crucial for maintaining your database’s integrity and accuracy.

The Syntax of the PostgreSQL DELETE Command

The DELETE command’s syntax in PostgreSQL is quite straightforward:

					DELETE FROM table_name
WHERE condition;


The table_name refers to the specific table you wish to delete rows from. The WHERE clause is crucial as it specifies the condition that must be met for the rows to be deleted.

Employing the PostgreSQL DELETE Command

The process of using the DELETE command is straightforward, but it requires precision. Here are detailed steps:

  • Identify the Table: Firstly, you need to identify the table from which you want to delete the rows. The table name is specified right after the DELETE FROM command.
  • Set the Condition: Then, you need to set the condition in the WHERE clause. Only those rows that meet this condition will be deleted.

Let’s look at an example for clarity:

					DELETE FROM employees
WHERE employee_id = 5;


In the above example, the command will delete the row where employee_id equals 5 from the employees table.

The RETURNING Clause with PostgreSQL DELETE

The RETURNING clause is a feature of PostgreSQL that’s very beneficial. It allows the DELETE command to return the deleted row(s).

The syntax is as follows:

					DELETE FROM table_name
WHERE condition


In this syntax, the RETURNING * clause will return all columns of the deleted row(s).

For example:

					DELETE FROM employees
WHERE employee_id = 5


This command will delete the row with employee_id equal to 5 and then return the deleted row’s details.

The DELETE Command with Subqueries in PostgreSQL

Another powerful feature is its ability to use subqueries with the DELETE command. This feature allows you to define a condition using a subquery, making your DELETE command even more flexible and powerful.

Here’s an example of a DELETE command with a subquery:

					DELETE FROM orders
WHERE customer_id IN (
    SELECT customer_id FROM customers WHERE country = 'Germany'


In the above example, the DELETE command will delete all rows in the orders table where the customer_id matches any customer_id from the customers table where the country equals ‘Germany’.

Important Notes on the PostgreSQL DELETE Command

Keep in mind, while the DELETE command is beneficial, it should be used with care. Any rows deleted cannot be recovered unless you’ve implemented a backup strategy.

Also, make sure your WHERE clause is accurate. If it’s omitted, the DELETE command will remove all rows from the specified table.

Wrap up

The PostgreSQL DELETE command is a powerful tool for database managers. It offers flexibility, from simple condition-based deletions to more complex operations involving subqueries. However, due to its destructive nature, it must be used with care.

With this comprehensive guide, we hope you have a better understanding of how to employ the DELETE command in PostgreSQL effectively. Keep practicing and exploring more features to enhance your database management skills.

Check how to install PostgreSQL:

Thanks for reading. Happy coding!