Data Manipulation Language (DML) Commands

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  • 0:04 Data Manipulation Language
  • 1:00 SELECT
  • 1:33 INSERT
  • 2:01 UPDATE
  • 2:39 DELETE
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

This lesson will cover data manipulation language (DML) commands in database management systems. These are commands that query, modify, and delete data in a database; they cannot modify the structure.

Data Manipulation Language

Data Manipulation Language (DML) may sound like a programming language, but it's really a concept. In this lesson, we'll show you how it works by using a fictional music database as an example. DML refers to the tools used to add to and update the data within a database, including things like artists, albums, and so on in our music database example.

DML is a categorization of existing SQL commands. SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and is a standard in database management systems. SQL commands are used for both data and structure changes to databases. We'll cover only data changes. These include querying, inserting data, updating data, deleting data, and reversing transactions. DML commands include SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.


The SELECT command is used to query a database and usually contains a WHERE clause to refine the search results. Without this option, you could get a huge set of data that's unmanageable. This example shows a simple query to return an artist's name, genre, and country from a database.

SELECT artistName, genre, country
FROM tblArtist
WHERE country='Canada';

It's important to note that the semicolon at the end of the command is required in most database management systems. It tells the system to process everything before it. If you leave it out, you will get unexpected results or an error.


The INSERT command is used to insert rows of data into the database table. In order to insert data, you must specify the table, the columns or fields being updated, and the corresponding values, like this:

INSERT INTO tblArtist (artistName, genre, country)
VALUES ('Boston', 'Rock', 'US');

Note that the values (Boston, Rock), must match the field names. At best, the system will error out since the data types might not match; at worst, you will have bogus data entered in the database.

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