I am trying to replace a table in our application by using a View. It works well for the most part, but I can't get past this error: "column must appear in the GROUP BY clause or be used in an aggregate function"

Steps to reproduce:

CREATE TABLE example_t (
    did serial PRIMARY KEY,
    a text,
    b text
INSERT INTO example_t(a, b) VALUES ('a', 'b');

CREATE VIEW example_t_v AS 
    SELECT t.did as did, t.a as a, t.b as b
    FROM example_t t;

Now this query works fine:

SELECT t.a, t.b FROM example_t t GROUP BY (t.did);

But an identical query from the view fails:

SELECT t.a, t.b FROM example_t_v t GROUP BY (t.did);

ERROR:  column "t.a" must appear in the GROUP BY clause or be used in an aggregate function
LINE 1:   SELECT t.a, t.b FROM example_t_v t GROUP BY (t.did);

It would be pretty hard to rewrite the application layer (since Django is generating the queries and it likes to use GROUP BY a lot) so is there a solution on the db layer?

1 Answer 1


Postgres is smart enough to know in the TABLE that your group-by column is UNIQUE (PRIMARY KEY) ... grouping by a column that is UNIQUE is pointless, so postgres just gives you back what you ask for (column values a and b)..

However, Postgres does NOT know that the group-by column in the VIEW is UNIQUE.. Thus, it's confused by your query (as well as most humans would be confused by your query - including myself).

FYI - your query makes no sense. Why would you group by a column when you apparently have no interest in performing an aggregate? What would you expect a and b to give you?

  • 1
    Is there any way to tell Postgres "look this column really is a PK of this view"? The examples here are convoluted, sure, but I am in the same position now and the problem is that the source table has a lot of columns that I'd have to explicitly list in the GROUP BY...
    – vektor
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 13:51
  • @vektor Not that I'm aware of, unless Postgres has something analogous to Oracle's Materialized Views. (I haven't used postgres in a few years, now - I think it does, but I'm not sure what they're called) Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 15:31
  • Materialized view would bring a ton of other problems. I was able to rewrite my view around this problem after all.
    – vektor
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 19:53
  • @vektor did you find a way to tell the Postgres "look this column really is a PK of this view"? If yes, can you please share the findings? Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 18:11
  • Even a materialized view with a unique index still needs to add all columns in group by, sadly
    – talski
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 14:04

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