Last modified: August 09, 2021

LIMITing queries is one way to filter down result sets, but we can get a lot more specific with the WHERE clause. The WHERE command is followed by the conditions you’d like to filter by.

SELECT * FROM artists WHERE [Filter Conditions];


Conditions are simply statements that are either true or false. The database takes these statements and evaluates them across all the rows as it scans through your tables and only returns the results that are true.

Let’s say for instance that we’d like to see the name of the artist who’s id is 85. The condition would be id = 85. Try the condition by running the following query:

The query instructed the database to scan the artists table and fetch all the rows where the condition (id = 85) was true. As you can see, the only artist with id 85 is Frank Sinatra.

Or if we wanted to lookup all the information on ‘Santana’ the condition would be name = 'Santana'

SELECT * FROM artists WHERE name = 'Santana';

Try getting the information on ‘Kiss’:

And another quiz: return the id from one of my favorite albums in High School, ‘American Idiot’.

Multiple matches

In the above examples we were querying on unique fields so we were only getting one answer in response. That’s not always the case however. In the tracks table many different tracks belong to the same album, and you can see that in the tracks database there is an album_id column. For example if we want to get all of the tracks belonging to an album, who’s id is 89 we could run:

89 just happens to be the same album_id as “American Idiot” had. We’ve just pulled all the tracks from the album American Idiot! We’ll get more into how we can JOIN this data based on the common key of album_id in a later section.

AND - Requiring Multiple Conditions

In SQL you can filter by any number of conditions. You can add additional conditions by using the AND operator between each new condition. Let’s take the query we wrote above and say we only want the tracks from album 89 (American Idiot) AND were also composed only by Green Day themselves.

See if you can modify the query above to also filter on tracks that are longer than 200000 milliseconds.

OR - Requiring Any Condition

You can also use OR to define multiple WHERE conditions when you care whether not both but at least one of the conditions is true. For example, the following query returns tracks that are composed by either Green Day OR AC/DC.


You can invert a condition by simply putting the NOT operator infront of it. For example, the following queries for everything that is NOT composed by Green Day.

Ordering and Parenthesis

You can use any number of OR and AND commands in conjunction to describe your conditions. Just like in math class, SQL has an order of operations. An AND is essentially a logic multiplication], and an OR is a logic addition, so ANDed conditions are performed first, and then the ORs.

Also like math, you can use parenthesis to specify the order of operations. As a best practice it’s good to use parenthesis wherever it seems like the logic and order might not be too clear. To explore let’s attempt to pull all the tracks composed Green Day AND any track by AC/DC that is over 240,000 milliseconds.

Notice the use of parenthesis making it clear that we only wanted the longer AC/DC songs. You can see that the Green Day songs under 240,000 milliseconds are still listed. If we change the parenthesis however, the logic applies the millisecond condition to all Green Day songs as well.


Test your skills out and see if you can query for all tracks with price greater than a dollar and a genre (genre_id) of 22;

Now see if you can query for all tracks with price greater than a dollar and a genre (genre_id) of either 22 or 19;

There are a lot more Operators than just the equal sign that enable us do some really complex things. We’ll dive into those operators next.

Written by: Dave Fowler
Reviewed by: Matt David