I want something like this:


...hoping to get 1 | 2 | 3. But in PostgreSQL 11 this query throws:

ERROR: record type has not been registered

and without * it obviously returns 1 | (2,3).

Is this possible?

  • 1
    A CASE expression can only return one single value. You need two expressions when you want two columns
    – user1822
    Oct 12, 2019 at 6:43

1 Answer 1


The (2, 3) has type record, i.e. Postgres doesn't know which (or even how many) columns it contains. You can use the .* syntax only with known ("registered") types.

You could define your own tuple type and use that instead of a record:

CREATE TYPE tuple AS (a int, b int);
SELECT 1, (CASE WHEN TRUE THEN '(2, 3)'::tuple ELSE '(4, 5)' END).*;
SELECT 1, (CASE WHEN TRUE THEN (2, 3)::tuple ELSE (4, 5)::tuple END).*;

If you absolutely need to have an expression that returns records, you can cast those to tuples afterwards only by going through a text representation:

SELECT 1, ((CASE WHEN TRUE THEN (2, 3) ELSE (4, 5) END)::text::TUPLE).*;

(online demo)

  • Why Postgres can infer column types for SELECT 1, s.* FROM (SELECT 2, 3) AS s ; but needs explicit type in my case? Oct 14, 2019 at 15:10
  • @KonstantinPelepelin My guess would be that a SELECT always infers some concrete row type for the result, but I don't really know either.
    – Bergi
    Oct 14, 2019 at 15:22

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