What Is The Difference between SQL and T-SQL?

What is the difference between SQL and T-SQL? T-SQL is Microsoft’s proprietary extension of SQL, and it includes additional features and capabilities beyond the standard SQL language. T-SQL is specifically designed for use with Microsoft SQL Server.

Both SQL and T-SQL are query language used to control database. They are quite a vital part of DBMS. The close relationship is what confuses a lot of people.

The article provides a core difference between SQL and T-SQL with a comparison chart to facilitate an easier understanding. Let’s find out:

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Difference between SQL and T-SQL (With Table)

Basic Terms SQL T-SQL
Basic Meaning Non-procedural language Procedural language
Functions provided Are provided with data manipulation and controlling function Are provided with procedural programming language and local variable.
Feature Open language Proprietary
Submission of Query One at a time Bulk submission
Special Features Has several DDL, DML and other operational functions. DDL, DML, transaction control, error and exception handling.
Derived Based programming language Derived from SQL to form an extension.
Embedding Can be embedded into T-SQL Cannot be embedded
Development Companies IBM Microsoft.
Standards Structured Query Language Transact-SQL
Year of Development The 1970s 2014

What Is SQL?

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a specialized programming language designed for the management and manipulation of relational databases. Serving as a standardized means of interaction with relational database management systems (RDBMS), SQL facilitates the creation, retrieval, updating, and deletion of data.

SQL encompasses several key components. The Data Query Language (DQL) is integral for retrieving data from a database, primarily through the use of the `SELECT` command. Meanwhile, the Data Definition Language (DDL) is employed for the creation, modification, and removal of database structures, utilizing commands like `CREATE`, `ALTER`, and `DROP` for tables, indexes, and views.

Data Manipulation Language (DML) focuses on altering the data within a database. Fundamental DML commands include `INSERT` for adding new records, `UPDATE` for modifying existing records, and `DELETE` for removing records. Data Control Language (DCL) manages access control to the data, with commands such as `GRANT` and `REVOKE` governing permissions.

SQL is not bound to a specific database management system; rather, it serves as a universal language supported by most relational database systems. Although individual vendors may introduce extensions or variations, like T-SQL for Microsoft SQL Server or PL/SQL for Oracle Database, the core syntax of SQL remains consistent across implementations.

What Is T-SQL?

Transact-SQL (T-SQL) represents a proprietary extension of Structured Query Language (SQL) developed by Microsoft. Functioning as an augmentation of SQL, T-SQL introduces additional features and capabilities, specifically tailored for use with Microsoft SQL Server.

Incorporating procedural programming constructs, local variables, error-handling mechanisms, and an expanded set of functions, T-SQL goes beyond the standard SQL language. This extension provides a comprehensive toolkit for the development of complex database objects within the Microsoft SQL Server environment. It enables the creation of sophisticated stored procedures, triggers, functions, and other elements that enhance the management and manipulation of data within the SQL Server database system.

Main Difference between SQL and T-SQL

  1. SQL is a programming language while T-SQL is an extension of SQL
  2. SQL has an open language while T-SQL is a proprietary
  3. T-SQL contain procedural programming and local variable among others, unlike SQL.
  4. SQL submit query one by one while T-SQL submit data in bulk.
  5. SQL can be embedded into T-SQL but T-SQL cannot be embedded into SQL.

Similarities between SQL and T-SQL

  1. Both SQL and T-SQL are query languages designed for managing and manipulating relational databases.

  2. Both languages support fundamental data manipulation operations, including inserting, updating, and deleting records.

  3. SQL and T-SQL include commands for defining and modifying the structure of a database, such as creating tables, indexes, and views.

  4. Both languages use the SELECT command for retrieving data from a database.

  5. Both SQL and T-SQL have Data Control Language (DCL) commands like GRANT and REVOKE to manage access control and permissions.

  6. Both languages support transaction control statements like COMMIT and ROLLBACK to ensure data consistency.

  7. Both SQL and T-SQL provide mechanisms for handling errors that may occur during database operations.

  8. While T-SQL is Microsoft’s extension, SQL is a standard language supported by most relational database systems, ensuring a degree of portability across platforms.

  9. T-SQL introduces procedural programming constructs, enhancing SQL with additional features for more complex database development.

  10. The basic syntax for common operations, such as querying data or defining database objects, remains similar between SQL and T-SQL.


In conclusion, the distinction between SQL and T-SQL lies in the realm of functionality and purpose within the database management landscape. SQL, or Structured Query Language, serves as a universal language for interacting with relational database systems. It provides a standardized set of commands for tasks such as querying data, defining database structures, and manipulating information.

On the other hand, T-SQL, or Transact-SQL, emerges as a Microsoft-specific extension of SQL, uniquely tailored for Microsoft SQL Server. This proprietary extension enhances SQL’s capabilities by incorporating procedural programming elements, local variables, error-handling mechanisms, and an array of additional functions. T-SQL becomes a powerful toolset for developers working within the Microsoft ecosystem, offering the means to create intricate stored procedures, triggers, functions, and other database objects.

While SQL serves as a general-purpose language applicable to various relational database systems, T-SQL dives deeper into the Microsoft SQL Server environment, providing a more extensive and specialized feature set. The choice between SQL and T-SQL often depends on the specific requirements of the database platform in use and the level of functionality and control needed in the development process.

Ultimately, understanding the nuances between SQL and T-SQL empowers developers and database administrators to make informed decisions based on the unique characteristics and demands of their database environment. Whether it’s the broad applicability of SQL or the tailored enhancements of T-SQL, both play vital roles in the world of relational databases, offering the flexibility and power needed to manage and manipulate data effectively.

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