Understanding Row Constructors in PostgreSQL

Row constructors in PostgreSQL are a powerful feature that allows users to construct and manipulate rows of data efficiently. Understanding how to use them can significantly optimize SQL queries and data manipulation tasks. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on row constructors, their syntax, and practical applications.

What are Row Constructors?

Row constructors are expressions that allow you to build a row of data by specifying values for each column. They are useful for comparing rows, inserting multiple rows with a single command, and other operations where you need to handle data in a row-wise fashion.

For example, row constructors can be used in WHERE clauses to filter data based on multiple column values.

Syntax of Row Constructors

In PostgreSQL, a row constructor can be created using the ROW keyword followed by a comma-separated list of values enclosed in parentheses. For instance:

ROW(value1, value2, value3, ...)

Different data types can be used within a row constructor as long as they correspond to the column data types of the table you’re working with.

Using Row Constructors in SELECT Statements

Row constructors can retrieve data in a structured manner. Consider the following example where we use a row constructor to compare a row of data with multiple columns in a SELECT statement:

FROM table_name
WHERE (column1, column2) = (value1, value2);

This query retrieves rows where column1 equals value1 and column2 equals value2.

Inserting Data with Row Constructors

Row constructors streamline the process of inserting multiple rows. The syntax for inserting data using row constructors is:

INSERT INTO table_name (column1, column2, column3)
  (value1a, value2a, value3a),
  (value1b, value2b, value3b),

This method is beneficial for batch-inserting data efficiently.

Updating Data with Row Constructors

Updating multiple rows simultaneously is possible with row constructors. An example of an UPDATE statement using a row constructor is:

UPDATE table_name
SET (column1, column2) = (value1, value2)
WHERE condition;

This updates column1 and column2 for all rows that meet the specified condition.

Deleting Data with Row Constructors

Similarly, row constructors can be used in DELETE statements to remove multiple rows that match a specific pattern:

DELETE FROM table_name
WHERE (column1, column2) IN (ROW(value1, value2), ROW(value3, value4));

Combining Row Constructors with Other SQL Operations

Row constructors can be combined with JOIN, UNION, and other SQL operations to perform complex queries. For instance, you can join two tables based on a row constructor condition.

Common Use Cases for Row Constructors

Row constructors are particularly useful in scenarios such as data migration, batch processing, and when working with composite types. They offer a concise and readable way to handle multiple data points in a single operation.


Row constructors in PostgreSQL are a versatile tool that can optimize SQL queries and data manipulation. By understanding their syntax and applications, developers can write more efficient and cleaner code.

Remember to always test your queries and consider performance implications when using row constructors. With practice, row constructors can become an indispensable part of your SQL toolkit.

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