Sql Where is Not Like

admin2 April 2024Last Update :

Unlocking the Power of SQL’s WHERE NOT LIKE Clause

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is the bedrock of data manipulation and retrieval in relational databases. It’s a language that allows us to communicate with databases to perform various operations such as inserting, updating, deleting, and querying data. Among its many features, the WHERE clause of SQL stands out as a fundamental tool for filtering data. When combined with the NOT LIKE operator, it becomes a powerful instrument for excluding specific patterns from our search results. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the nuances of the “WHERE NOT LIKE” clause, exploring its syntax, usage, and practical applications.

Understanding the Basics of WHERE NOT LIKE

Before we delve into the intricacies of the WHERE NOT LIKE clause, it’s essential to grasp the basics of the WHERE clause and the LIKE operator. The WHERE clause is used to filter records that meet certain criteria. The LIKE operator, on the other hand, is used within the WHERE clause to search for a specified pattern in a column.

The NOT LIKE operator is simply the negation of LIKE. It is used to exclude rows that match a certain pattern. The syntax for using WHERE NOT LIKE is as follows:

SELECT column1, column2, ...
FROM table_name
WHERE columnN NOT LIKE pattern;

The pattern typically contains wildcards such as the percent sign (%) for zero or more characters and the underscore (_) for a single character. By using these wildcards, we can create flexible search conditions.

Wildcards and Their Use in Patterns

  • %: Represents zero or more characters. For example, ‘a%’ would match any string starting with ‘a’.
  • _: Represents a single character. For example, ‘a_’ would match any two-character string starting with ‘a’.

Practical Examples of WHERE NOT LIKE in Action

To illustrate the practical use of WHERE NOT LIKE, let’s consider a database containing a table named ‘Products’ with the following columns: ProductID, ProductName, and Category.

Example 1: Excluding Specific Patterns

Imagine we want to retrieve all products whose names do not start with ‘Cheese’. The SQL query would be:

SELECT ProductID, ProductName, Category
FROM Products
WHERE ProductName NOT LIKE 'Cheese%';

This query will return all products except those whose names begin with ‘Cheese’.

Example 2: Combining Patterns with Logical Operators

Now, suppose we want to find all products that do not start with ‘Cheese’ and do not end with ‘Cake’. We can combine patterns using the AND logical operator:

SELECT ProductID, ProductName, Category
FROM Products
WHERE ProductName NOT LIKE 'Cheese%'
AND ProductName NOT LIKE '%Cake';

This query filters out products that start with ‘Cheese’ or end with ‘Cake’, providing a more refined result set.

Advanced Filtering with WHERE NOT LIKE

The WHERE NOT LIKE clause can be used for more advanced filtering by incorporating additional SQL features such as subqueries, joins, and functions.

Using Subqueries with WHERE NOT LIKE

Subqueries can be used in conjunction with WHERE NOT LIKE to filter data based on more complex conditions. For example, if we want to find products that do not belong to categories listed in another table called ‘ExcludedCategories’, we could use the following query:

SELECT ProductID, ProductName, Category
FROM Products
WHERE Category NOT IN (
    SELECT CategoryName
    FROM ExcludedCategories
AND ProductName NOT LIKE 'Cheese%';

This query excludes products from categories specified in the ‘ExcludedCategories’ table and also filters out products starting with ‘Cheese’.

Combining Joins and WHERE NOT LIKE

Joins can be used to combine rows from two or more tables based on a related column between them. When combined with WHERE NOT LIKE, we can exclude records based on patterns across multiple tables. For instance:

SELECT p.ProductID, p.ProductName, p.Category
FROM Products p
JOIN Suppliers s ON p.SupplierID = s.SupplierID
WHERE s.SupplierName NOT LIKE 'Local%'
AND p.ProductName NOT LIKE '%Milk';

This query retrieves products that are not supplied by suppliers whose names start with ‘Local’ and whose product names do not end with ‘Milk’.

Performance Considerations and Best Practices

While WHERE NOT LIKE is a versatile tool, it’s important to use it judiciously to maintain database performance. Here are some tips for optimizing queries with WHERE NOT LIKE:

  • Avoid leading wildcards in patterns (e.g., ‘%value’) when possible, as they prevent the use of indexes and can slow down the query.
  • Use more specific patterns to reduce the workload on the database engine.
  • Consider full-text searching capabilities if your database supports them, as they can be more efficient for pattern matching.
  • Regularly update statistics and indexes on your database to ensure optimal query performance.

Case Studies: WHERE NOT LIKE in Real-World Scenarios

To further understand the application of WHERE NOT LIKE, let’s look at some real-world case studies.

Case Study 1: E-commerce Product Filtering

An e-commerce platform may use WHERE NOT LIKE to exclude products from search results based on customer preferences or past behavior. For example, if a customer has indicated they are allergic to nuts, the platform could automatically filter out products with ‘nut’ in their name or description.

Case Study 2: Data Cleaning and Preparation

Data analysts often use WHERE NOT LIKE to clean and prepare datasets for analysis. For instance, when dealing with a dataset containing social media posts, analysts might exclude posts with certain profane words or phrases to ensure the analysis is based on appropriate content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use multiple NOT LIKE conditions in a single SQL query?

Yes, you can use multiple NOT LIKE conditions in a single query by combining them with logical operators such as AND or OR.

Is it possible to use NOT LIKE with numeric columns?

While it’s technically possible to use NOT LIKE with numeric columns by casting them to strings, it’s not a common practice and may lead to performance issues.

How does the performance of NOT LIKE compare to other filtering methods?

NOT LIKE can be less efficient than other filtering methods, especially when using leading wildcards. It’s important to consider alternative methods such as full-text search or pattern matching functions specific to your database system.


The WHERE NOT LIKE clause in SQL is a flexible and powerful tool for excluding patterns from your query results. By understanding its syntax and combining it with other SQL features, you can perform complex data filtering to meet your application’s needs. However, it’s crucial to use this clause wisely to maintain the performance of your database. With the insights and examples provided in this article, you’re now equipped to harness the full potential of WHERE NOT LIKE in your SQL queries.


For further reading and advanced SQL techniques, consider exploring the following resources:

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