The MySQL LIKE Operator

The LIKE operator is used in a WHERE clause to search for a specified pattern in a column.

There are two wildcards often used in conjunction with the LIKE operator:

  • The percent sign (%) represents zero, one, or multiple characters
  • The underscore sign (_) represents one, single character

The percent sign and the underscore can also be used in combinations!

LIKE Syntax

SELECT column1, column2, ...
FROM table_name
WHERE columnN LIKE pattern; 

Tip: You can also combine any number of conditions using AND or OR operators.

Here are some examples showing different LIKE operators with ‘%’ and ‘_’ wildcards:

LIKE OperatorDescription
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘a%’Finds any values that start with “a”
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘%a’Finds any values that end with “a”
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘%or%’Finds any values that have “or” in any position
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘_r%’Finds any values that have “r” in the second position
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘a_%’Finds any values that start with “a” and are at least 2 characters in length
WHERE CustomerName LIKE ‘a__%’Finds any values that start with “a” and are at least 3 characters in length
WHERE ContactName LIKE ‘a%o’Finds any values that start with “a” and ends with “o”

Demo Database

The table below shows the complete “Customers” table from the Northwind sample database:

CustomerIDCustomerNameContactNameAddressCityPostalCodeCountry
1Alfreds FutterkisteMaria AndersObere Str. 57Berlin12209Germany
2Ana Trujillo Emparedados y heladosAna TrujilloAvda. de la Constitución 2222México D.F.05021Mexico
3Antonio Moreno TaqueríaAntonio MorenoMataderos 2312México D.F.05023Mexico
4Around the HornThomas Hardy120 Hanover Sq.LondonWA1 1DPUK
5Berglunds snabbköpChristina BerglundBerguvsvägen 8LuleåS-958 22Sweden
6Blauer See DelikatessenHanna MoosForsterstr. 57Mannheim68306Germany
7Blondel père et filsFrédérique Citeaux24, place KléberStrasbourg67000France
8Bólido Comidas preparadasMartín SommerC/ Araquil, 67Madrid28023Spain
9Bon app’Laurence Lebihans12, rue des BouchersMarseille13008France
10Bottom-Dollar MarketseElizabeth Lincoln23 Tsawassen Blvd.TsawassenT2F 8M4Canada

SQL LIKE Examples

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName starting with “a”:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a%'; 

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName ending with “a”:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%a'; 

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that have “or” in any position:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '%or%';

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that have “r” in the second position:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE '_r%';

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that starts with “a” and are at least 3 characters in length:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName LIKE 'a__%'; 

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a ContactName that starts with “a” and ends with “o”:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE ContactName LIKE 'a%o'; 

The following SQL statement selects all customers with a CustomerName that does NOT start with “a”:

Example

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE CustomerName NOT LIKE 'a%';