How do I go about learning SQL?


Diamond Member
Mar 26, 2005
I will be taking a SQL Server class next semester in college. The class is meant to be an intro course, but it does assume a student already took a basic SQL course and is familiar with basic commands and understands certain concepts such as normalization. The professor will not hold anyone's hand, and will not do any sort of a review. She is very strict, and very by-the-book.

Unfortunately, I know nothing about SQL. Nothing whatsoever. ZERO. Zilch.

I have until middle of January to get up to speed. I spoke to some students who took the class and they told me the class mainly focuses on Microsoft SQL Server and pretty much nothing else.

I see plenty of resources online to learn this stuff but I got a few questions...

As I understand, SQL is a language. And SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle are "platforms" for making databases with SQL. So it doesn't matter if I study from people using MySQL or SQL Server? If I grasp the basic concepts I will be able to use any platform?

Are the commands different on SQL Server vs MySQL? Again, I don't care about subtle differences. The professor will most likely want everyone to learn the basics, not the intricacies.

Finally, do you have any advice for me? Any specific great resources?

In the future, if I want to use SQL on Linux, what "platforms" are available? I am assuming MySQL is there since its free?


Elite Member <br>Moderator Emeritus
Sep 16, 2005
There is an ANSI standard for SQL, which variants more or less comply with. Then there are the variants such as postgresql, mysql, Transact SQL (SQL Server, actually inherited from Sybase), and many others.

They all share basic SQL concepts and keywords like SELECT, JOIN, INSERT, etc. But there is a lot of variation around the edges where functionality isn't covered by the standard.

The first thing to do, imo, is get a solid understanding of what a relational database is, what tables contain, how they relate to each other, etc. You can probably best do this by playing with some syntax using an example DB, or creating a really simple DB of your own. Basically just choose some resources and dive in. It's not really rocket science once you start picking it apart.
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