I want to sum a few values using case statements. My problem is compiler complains if I do not add a group by to the end of the query, which then that negates my Distinct, hah. For example, in my sample below this returns 2 entries for red12 even though 1 entry does not fit any of the criteria above, but the Group By messes me up! How can I run this query and only return applicable results, i.e. what the case statements show?

Create Table #Bobsled
  [event] varchar(100)
  ,[time] decimal(18,4)
  ,employeeID varchar(25)
  ,name varchar(500)

Insert Into #Bobsled Values
('Walk', '16.32','red12', 'red arrow')
,('Eat', '5.12', 'red12', 'red arrow')
,('Run', '32.13','pink01', 'pink pig')
,('Walk', '2.12', 'bl81', 'blue fire')
,('Sleep', '8.12', 'gr99', 'green pony')

Select Distinct
,case when [event] = 'Walk' then SUM([time]) else 0 end as walktime
,case when [event] = 'RUN' then SUM([time]) else 0 end as runtime
,case when [event] = 'Sleep' then SUM([time]) else 0 end as sleeptime
FROM #Bobsled
--only executes sucesfully with this 
GROUP BY employeeID, [event]

2 Answers 2


You should use the Pivot operator for this query. See the below.

      [event] VARCHAR(100)
    , [time] DECIMAL(18, 4)
    , employeeID VARCHAR(25)
    , name VARCHAR(500)

VALUES  ( 'Walk', '16.32', 'red12', 'red arrow' )
,       ( 'Eat', '5.12', 'red12', 'red arrow' )
,       ( 'Run', '32.13', 'pink01', 'pink pig' )
,       ( 'Walk', '2.12', 'bl81', 'blue fire' ) 
,       ( 'Sleep', '8.12', 'gr99', 'green pony' );

WITH    CTE_Bobsled
          AS ( SELECT   *
               FROM     @Bobsled B PIVOT ( SUM([time]) FOR [event] IN ( [Walk],
                                                              [Run], [Sleep] ) ) AS PivotTable
    SELECT  employeeID
          , Walk
          , Run
          , Sleep
    FROM    CTE_Bobsled;

I think what you're looking for is an aggregate on employeeID where the CASE goes inside the SUM() aggregate function.

SELECT employeeid,
       SUM((CASE WHEN [event] = 'Walk' THEN [time] ELSE 0 END)) AS walktime,
       SUM((CASE WHEN [event] = 'RUN' THEN [time] ELSE 0 END)) AS runtime,
       SUM((CASE WHEN [event] = 'Sleep' THEN [time] ELSE 0 END)) AS sleeptime
FROM #Bobsled
GROUP BY employeeID;

This way, you get one result row per employeeID, basically pivoted on event.

  • 1
    The ELSE 0 is there to avoid aggregating on NULL values, which is ugly and will produce a warning. Jan 28, 2016 at 16:09
  • 1
    Yes, if there are zero rows with event='Walk' for some empoyees, the sum of all nulls will be null. The ELSE 0 avoids that. Jan 28, 2016 at 16:32
  • 1
    A condition WHERE [event] IN ('Walk', 'Run', 'Sleep') might be added as well. It might improve efficiency (or make it worse ;). Jan 28, 2016 at 16:35
  • What's wrong with aggregating on NULL values? For SUM there's a correct alternative to NULL, but there is not for AVG. NULL is the correct value in this case. AVG((CASE WHEN [event] = 'Walk' THEN [time] ELSE ??? END)) Jan 28, 2016 at 23:22

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